A chance encounter in her local coffee shop brings Bella's life to a grinding halt. Who is this stranger that knows things about her, she had only dreamed of ever finding out? How do they cope when they face a common enemy?
6. Chapter 5: Stranded or Landed?
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”Stranded or Landed?”
They were clutching each other tightly, neither having moved a single inch from the position they were in as the sand swallowed them.
His eyes were skewed shut and every muscle in his body ached from the exertion he has engaged in.
The breeze blew past their curled bodies lying pressed together on the ground and he slowly willed his eyelids from the locked position they’d been in and blinked rapidly as the explosion of light from the outside world blinded him at first.
As soon as his vision cleared and he was able to focus for more than three seconds, did he praise their surroundings.
The soft earth below them, slightly giving in density when he moved about, revealed that they were lying on sand once again. The slow, steady rhythm of waves lapping at the shore told him they were near water. They were on a beach, though not the same as the one they had just sat at, he noted.
No, here the sun shined brightly down upon them bringing the unmistakable warmth only a Midsummer’s day sun could provide.
The breeze was not cold or biting against his skin as it had been in that other place. Here, the wind carried the sweet smell of flowers and salty water, and every pass it made by their bodies made his skin glow in delight by the feeling of being home.
“Ungh-” the girl still firmly resting in his arms sputtered, and his attention immediately settled on her body lying still besides him.
She felt her throat close up and the panic that shot through her as she realised she had trouble breathing, sent her into shock. Her eyes flew open, and just like his before, she had a difficult time focusing on one item, the bright light from the sun blinding her.
The panic of not being able to breathe toppled with her lack of sight, sent her shock spiralling downwards, and she felt her heart beat furiously beneath her chest, trying to break free and get out into the air. She needed oxygen. She’d only just realised as much as her body began hyperventilating, her brown eyes growing unnaturally big as she was finally able to focus on the man in front of her.
He had initially been relieved and slightly pensive when she’d given word from her, but as he looked into her wide and disturbed brown eyes, he felt the panic settle deep in his belly, the intrusive feeling rapidly spreading through his system and incapacitating him.
He froze! And there she was having a panic attack, and he was utterly useless and just stared at her in horror, as horrid feeling after horrid feeling flew past the expression in her eyes.
A white, almost transparent film covered the dark irises of her eyes after a short time, and her breath was wheezing down her throat, making her sound like an old lady, having suffered from a lifelong abuse of cigarettes and stale air. For a brief second did he wonder if she maybe suffered from bronchitis since her breath was wheezing like so.
The thought, although random and rather inappropriate, sprung him into gear, and he let go of his tight hold on her and clasped her chin in one hand, the other pressing two fingers lightly against the pulse point of her left wrist.
Her eyes stared unblinkingly into his green ones, her vision slightly obscured by the white filter that had laid itself across her irises. She felt briefly annoyed by the obtrusion between her vision and his, but the feeling soon dimmed as her entire focus returned to her inability to breathe correctly. “Ngh-” she sputtered once again, her mouth opening wide, in a gagging motion, but with no sound coming forth.
“Jesus!” he exclaimed, realizing she were having trouble breathing. His glance moved anxiously across her body, trying to figure out how to help her catch her breath. Was she choking?
There wasn’t time to contemplate further, he decided, and jumped into a standing position. As soon as his feet hit the sand below them, gaining momentum for just a second, caved his knees beneath the added weight of his body. His muscles ached, and every one of his limbs were shaking uncontrollably. He would not be able to hold himself up and support her full weight as he would try to help her gain back her breath, he noted.
Not yet defeated, the adrenaline kicking in at full gear, he crawled over her shaking form, curling his entire being into her back. They were spooning in the sand, her breathing nearly non existent at this point, and he noted with horror, that her body slumped slightly forward into the sand, as her body caved into her struggles.
He reached both arms tightly around her midsection, being extra aware of the position of her belly button as he interlocked his hands and pressed himself tightly against her. He kicked one leg out behind him, having it act as a resistance to the movement he was about to force upon her tiny frame.
He pressed once, the action rather clumsy, as he didn’t gain the momentum he had hoped for. His leg had slipped behind him and she had curled slightly more onto her front, pressing him more into her side than her back.
“Fuck!” He exclaimed, the exertion in his muscles burning through him like wildfire, and he willed every last working cell in his body to cooperate as he righted her frame to lie on its side in front of him again. This time he pressed even tighter against her small, shaking figure, lying slightly lower than her.
His nose was pressed into the shirt between her shoulder blades, his chest pressed up against the middle of her back and his hips pressed up into her behind. One leg was still pressed firmly into the sand behind them, while the other curled around her knees.
“Alright..ungh-” he groaned and breathed roughly through his lips. “1..2- and 3!” he murmured and pressed with all his might, trying to slightly lift her body as far as his aching muscles would allow him to.
She sputtered from in front of him, her load gasp expanding her lungs almost painfully and she turned slightly into the sand as dry heaves and violent coughing wracked her body.
He exhaled loudly and released his tight hold against her stomach as she continued to cough slightly. Her deep breathing in between coughs satisfied him, and as he rolled onto his back gave his muscles in to the exhaustion and he slumped into the sand with a deep groan.
He had passed out almost instantly, nearly sending her into yet another panic attack before she steeled herself from doing something as stupid as passing out besides him, when he had just done everything to avoid exactly that from happening.
Instead she had curled slightly up against him, finding indescribable reassurance in his strong and steady heartbeat and slow and deep breaths. She regulated her breathing so it matched his until she felt her body relax into the sand, making her curl slightly further into Edward’s form.
His warmth soothed her skin as she pressed her face into his neck and breathed down his chest. He shuddered slightly and curled into her touch.
Lying there in the sand, both physically and emotionally exhausted, caved their bodies to the fatigue and they fell into a deep slumber
They had turned during their slumber. They’d resumed a spooning position in the sand, his hands grasped around her slim waist and hers lying atop of his.
He had woken first. Her hair had tickled the skin of his upper lip and he had been on the verge of sneezing before he stumbled back into reality.
He’d covered away from her body almost instantly. It was like she had stung him everywhere they had been in contact, either flesh to skin or skin to fabric. He barely registered their intimate position before he was on his feet and stumbled a few feet away from her resting form with his heart pumping furiously in his chest.
It had felt so familiar, lying there, behind her slight, feminine curves, holding her tightly against the rough and hard planes of his body. And that scared him more than any feeling or situation he had ever been in or had before.
He needed to breathe, to think. She made that nearly impossible, so instead of positioning himself down in the sand once again, he decided to explore their surroundings further. ‘Make sure they were safe, and all’ he reasoned with himself, as he felt guilty leaving her lying in the sand, vulnerable and exposed.
Huffing quietly under his breath as he contemplated what action to take now. He could wander either further down or up the beach of he could go explore the forest that bordered the beach.
Deciding on the latter option, he took one long lasting look at the small female and willed himself forward, into the bushes and rough underbrush of the green plantation.
The density of green filled every aspect of the landscape in front of him. Not even the rusty brown colour of the bark of the trees was visible; all of it covered in moss and leaves, making it impossible to even catch a brief glimpse of the skeleton of the trees.
He wandered further into the forest, brushing away the occasional annoying branch or straw.
All he saw was more green, and the further he went, deeper into the masses of green, the more annoyed he became. He knew the lands like the back of his hand, yet he had never set foot in this exact part of the forest, and it angered him to be completely and utterly helpless and – if he were being honest – hopeless.
The treetops curled further in on themselves as he wandered further into the forest. Hardly any of the sunlight hit the ground below, and he wondered of the plants’ abilities to still remain in such a lush, deep green colour. The towering trees didn’t spare much of the precious rays of sun, and yet the nature around him didn’t seem to be affected by the missing nutrient.
The bright light that had surrounded him from the beach were slowly vanishing, and he were navigating almost blindly through the grass and moss, a couple of times coming close to stumbling into some of the trees.
‘So this is pointless,’ he thought and turned on his heals, fully prepared to return back to the beach, back to Bella. But as he swung around on his feet, a slight ray of light caught his attention in the distance.
He stopped briefly, looking back towards the path back to the beach. He was staring intently between the two paths; the one that would lead him back to Bella with no new knowledge of their whereabouts or the one that would lead him towards…something. He didn’t know what is what about the new path he had discovered, but something about the light ahead called to him, making him yearn to go in pursuit of it.
“Fuck it,” he exclaimed loudly, causing a bird somewhere in the overgrowth to bask away in fright. He was going to explore, and with a final look in her direction, he was following the path.
The ground beneath his feet was soggier than before, the green moss flooded by water whenever his feet settled into the soft material. He hurried past trees and branches, only once pausing as he realised that the light was shiny through the blanket of trees, branches and leaves in front of him.
He pushed through the rough material and stumbled slightly free from the tough grip the branches had had on him. Amazed he stopped struggling as soon as he noticed where the light had brought him.
He was standing at the each of what looked to be a small meadow. The green wall of trees surrounded the little field of grass and flowers, and a small creek flowed effortlessly through the scenic landscape, adding a calming sense to the air surrounding him. The comforting sounds of the flowing water, travelling across rocks and sand in a fast, yet unhurried tempo, calmed him and he breathed deeply, enjoying the fresh smell of grass.
‘I know this place,’ he realised with glee, and turned on his heels once again, intent on bringing Isabella here.
She had been sitting in the sand with her knees curled beneath her body as he had stumbled through the thick overgrowth of the beginning of the forest.
When she had woken alone in the sand she had initially thought he had upped and left her there. But she’d considered herself stupid not seconds after the thought had entered her brain. “He wouldn’t just leave,” she had tried placating her worried mind, and had decided to wait around a couple of minutes before going in pursuit of him, wherever he was.
A few minutes turned into a long time, as her mind occupied it self with thoughts of the book, the letter and the locket. What did it all mean?
She had yet to understand truly what all this fuss was about, and what annoyed her most, was not her lack of knowledge of why she was brought here to this place but who had brought her here.
He claimed to know who she was, and yet she had no idea who he was. She only knew superficial stuff like his name and occupation. It annoyed her beyond belief that this man – this person – had completely captivated her, and now she sat… Well, she had no idea where she sat! ‘I could be anywhere in the world right now,’ she thought bitterly.
As she sat grumbling about her annoying stranger, she noticed a glimmering of light from the sand further down the beach. Her eyes squinted trying to make out what would reflect the sunlight in such a distinctive manner, but she couldn’t determine what was creating the reflection.
Unsteadily she stood and walked towards the spot in the sand where the light was brightest.
When she neared the object, she noted with horror that it was her locket lying, half-buried, in the sand, and she kneeled in the sand as she retrieved the object from its position.
“Huh.” She uttered, as she realised she must have lost the precious jewellery. She curled her hand tightly around the small metal locket and pressed it into her chest, feeling the faint thump of her heartbeat against the spot where it rested.
She had been temporarily disturbed by his violent struggle through the bushes and trees, the silence that had engulfed her as she stared blankly out over the water abruptly put to an end as he cursed loudly, before rushing through the heavy sand beneath his feet.
He stopped suddenly next to her sitting form, a heap of sand flowing over her lap and stinging the bare skin of her arms.
“Hey!” she exclaimed and looked up into his eyes with what she hoped was annoyance. She had to squint her eyes to shield them from the light, so she figured she hadn’t been all that successful.
He chose to ignore her indignant tone and grabbed her upper arm in excitement, trying to get her to her feet. He should off course have known better by now, since the sudden shift to her body brought her tumbling backwards and brought him with her.
“Oof!” He had landed on top off her, his weight crushing her significantly smaller body beneath him. “Get off!” she squeaked.
“Sorry,” he mumbled as he stood back up into the sand, this time letting the girl stand of her own volition next to him. As soon as she was standing – securely – next to him did he grab her upper arm once again and pulled her along to the part of the forest where he had just emerged. “Follow me.”
She had stumbled after him, not happy with him dragging her through the dense, green forest. Every once in a while her clothes would get stuck on a branch or she would be smacked in the head by a flying twig. Off course he would apologize when he realised to late that he had sent the bastard twig straight into her face when he had let go of it.
The bastard. She was fuming and once they had reached their destination she was fully prepared to lay into him for dragging her along like she was some common cow behind him.
“You listen here mister!” she yelled at him. “Just what do you think you’re-” she didn’t get to finish her yelling as he stopped her by placing a long, innocent finger on her lips, silencing her as he motioned for her to look around them.
Her heart sped up as soon as the smooth skin of his finger touched her lips. Her bottom lip trembled as she distinctly remembered their kiss on the beach, before they were…transported? here.
She looked him in the eyes, her breathing picking up as she saw the dark look in them. She was mesmerized by the dark green colour gazing back at her.
He felt the air around them get heavy and his finger tingled where he touched her, sending a shiver through his body. ‘This is not good,’ he thought and cleared his throat.
The sound broke the spell around them and she averted her eyes, trying desperately to avoid looking back into his emerald ones. She stepped back at the same time as he removed his finger from her face and the air around them turned tense.
“Um.. I wanted you to see this,” he said quietly with a sad tone to his speak.
She looked towards him briefly, catching the gloomy look in his eyes, before she glanced around him, for the first time noticing their surroundings.
It was absolutely breath taking.
“It’s beautiful,” she muttered in awe.
Edward looked at her staring in wonder at the beauty of the small meadow he had led them to. He couldn’t help but agree with her statement, yet he found himself wanting to agree upon the beauty of something quite different than the landscape around them.
“What is this place?” she asked, not yet looking at him completely. She wandered into the centre of the field, bending down slightly to pick at some of the flowers growing in the bed of grass beneath their feet.
“It’s a small meadow – it’s called cubile amatores.” He told her as he stepped past her, heading for the small creek that twisted through the earth. “Come on, I’ll show you.” He motioned for her to approach him as he sat down into the ground, pulling something from one of his pockets.
She sat down next to him, her eyes still staring wondrously at the nature around them. The wall of trees gave the small meadow a private feel, and the sun shining down into their bed of grass warmed the air blowing gently through the landscape, lifting some of his hair gently and repositioning the locks on his forehead.
He brushed the offending locks back in their rightful place and handed her what he had retrieved from his pocket.
She took the paper he offered her, hesitantly unfolding it. She was slightly startled as she realised the content on the paper was the map she’d seen in the book from the library back home. “How did you get this?”
“I took it from the book when you left me hanging in the library.” He smirked teasingly at her.
She grinned back at him, rather fond of the memory of his expression as she left him there. “Alright, what is it then?”
“It’s a map.”
“Ha ha, smartass!” she scowled at him. “I got that much by myself, thank you Captain Obvious!”
His smirk grew into a full-blown smile, and she noted with satisfaction that this feature made the skin around his eyes crinkle, and she found that she rather liked the look of glee his eyes had when she glanced at them.
“Well, since you’ve asked so nicely,” he smirked at her, his tone slightly condescending, yet full of mirth. “This is a map, or more like an interesting drawing, of our land.” He motioned to the funnily shaped island on the paper. “The fairy tale actually mentioned something about this…”
She wracked her brain trying to remember of what he spoke, but ended up empty handed. “What did it say, the fairy tale?”
“It said something about the diversity of the country. It’s not a perfect description of the land, but it is somewhat accurate.” He motioned to the top of the island, saying “The North of our land is covered in ice, the mountains many and high up into the skies. The Western part of the land is mostly steppes, a few valleys of exotic plants and lush greenery,” he paused and pointed towards the bottom of the island. “The deep South is in a constant heat from the burning sun above. The ground marred by the lack of water, and the most astounding feature of this region is Volcano draconis,” he motioned to the biggest of the mountains on the map.
‘Volcano,’ she thought, ‘that’s quite self-explanatory.’ She nodded for him to continue as he stared into her brown, expressive eyes.
“The East of the land is covered in thick, dense forest grounds. Many a soldiers from other kingdoms have been lost in the thick bush of the forest.” He glanced warily at her, as he dragged his finger slightly north through the forest line, and stopped when he came to a part of the map that stated: ‘cubile amatoris’. “This is us…”
She stared incredulously down at the map, trying to comprehend what he was telling her. They were actually in the map… ‘Well, not in-in the map,’ she snorted.
He looked at her funnily, and she blushed in embarrassment as she realised she’d snorted out loud. He laughed silently at her odd antics and kept a steady gaze on her.
“We’re heading South West,” he stated.
She studied the map briefly, before asking him: “What’s in the South West?”
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