Rourk (Keegan's Chronicles Series Book 4)

BOOK: Rourk (Keegan's Chronicles Series Book 4)
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Contents

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Epilogue

About the Author

Rourk: A Novella

Copyright 2013 Julia Crane

Published by Valknut Press, LLC

 

 All rights reserved.

This book is protected under the copyright laws of the United States of America. Any reproduction or other unauthorized use of the material or artwork herein is prohibited. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without prior written permission of the author.

This novel is a work of fiction. Any references to historical events; to real people, living or dead; or to real locales are intended only to give the fiction a sense of reality and authenticity. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author?s imagination or are used fictitiously, and their resemblance, if any, to real-life counterparts is entirely coincidental.

 

Cover Art by Eden Crane

Editing by Theo Fenfraven & Claire Teeter

Dedication

 

To the fans of Keegan’s Chronicles

CHAPTER 1   

Eight a.m.

At eight a.m, Rourk would be on the plane, strapped in, rucksack stowed overhead. The flight would depart, and he would be on it, because that was part of being in the military. Part of being an elfin warrior.

But it also meant leaving his Chosen.

Rourk expertly flipped the egg in the air and moved the pan to catch it without breaking the yolk. He returned the skillet to the stove, his heart pounding in his chest as he thought of leaving Keegan behind again. The very idea was like a knife to the chest.

The egg sizzled in the early morning silence, edges slowly crinkling up in the nonstick pan. Rourk stared out the window at the snow dripping off the tree limb in the sunlight. Soon, winter would be a memory and spring would take hold. Unfortunately, he would miss the change of seasons.

It was already getting warm in Afghanistan.

Turning the heat off, Rourk scooped the egg onto a plate next to a couple of slices of toast, and placed the meal on a tray. All that was missing was juice, which he grabbed from the fridge. He filled his wife’s favorite cup—a clear glass with delicate dried leaves nestled beneath the plastic.

Rourk tossed a piece of sausage to Athena, their English bulldog, who had been trailing drool on the linoleum since the moment the meat hit the pan, and then grabbed the tray. Keegan wasn’t much of a morning person, but he thought breakfast would help. He shook his head, smiling. That girl could eat.

The bungalow was quiet other than the clicking of Athena’s nails on the hardwood floor. They sat so far off the street that they never heard the traffic, just birds singing, or neighbors calling out “Hello!” as they worked in their gardens. Finding the place had been a dream come true. It was the perfect hidden oasis for the first two years of their marriage.

Rourk passed through the sunshine spilling through the skylight in the hallway, and then stopped in his tracks just inside the bedroom doorway. The sight of his wife made his throat tighten.

Keegan looked so peaceful. Her full lips were parted, and she was curled on her side, sleeping soundly. The light filtering through the curtains made her auburn hair shimmer like pale fire. She shivered in her sleep, drawing the heavy charcoal comforter tighter.

Rourk wished he could stand there forever, tracing every curve of her lean body, counting every breath that rose within her chest.

Instead, he took a deep breath and walked over to his side of the bed. He placed the tray on the nightstand, and the dishes rattled. Of course, Keegan didn’t move. She slept through anything.

Rourk climbed in bed beside her, settling lightly against her back, her weight rolling into him as she slept. Familiar. Fitted perfectly to the contours of his body. He brushed a strand of her hair out of her face. She rubbed her cheek, but she didn’t open her eyes.

He hated to wake her, but his flight left in two hours. Two hours would never be long enough for him to be with her, but this time, it would have to be. Three months away. The familiar feeling of anticipation washed over him. How could he at once be excited about being deployed
and
terrified of leaving his wife?

He pushed the thought aside and put his focus where it belonged: Keegan.

Leaning down, he pressed his lips to hers. As he pulled away, her blue-green eyes fluttered open.

“Morning,” he whispered, running his thumb across her bottom lip.

Keegan groaned, rubbing the sleep from her eyes. “Noooo. I don’t want it to be morning. I don’t want you to leave.” She rolled over and flung an arm and a leg around him, pulling him closer.

His heart thudded in his chest, like it always did when she was near. He could keep his heart rate steady in battle, but around Keegan, it raced. There was also an undercurrent of electricity that coursed through his body at her touch, at the way she embraced him with nothing but her thin cotton night clothes between them.

“I know. I feel the same way.” Rourk disengaged an arm and reached over her to grab her plate. “I made you breakfast.”

Keegan sniffed the air. “Is that cinnamon toast I smell?”

“It is.” Rourk sat up, holding out her food with a grin. “I couldn’t leave you without making sure you were well fed.”

Keegan swiped a slice of toast and kissed him before she took a bite. “You’re the best husband ever,” she said through a mouthful.

Rourk settled the big plate filled with eggs, sausage, and fruit on her lap and teased, “Be sure to breathe between bites. I’m not sure how I would explain to my team sergeant that I didn’t make my flight because of a trip to the emergency room.”

“Aren’t you going to eat?” she asked, her fork digging into the egg. The yolk burst open like a tiny sun on the green plate.

“I ate a couple of hours ago.”

Keegan groaned. “I wish you would have woken me. We could have had more time together.”

His lip twitched. Waking Keegan at four in the morning would have been impossible, she slept so deeply.

They chatted about what time they needed to leave, what route they would take to the airfield, and what Keegan’s plans for the day were. Rourk knew they were both avoiding the topic they hated most—him leaving. They’d been through the motions several times already. It was too bad it never got easier.

Keegan devoured the food as they talked. He really didn’t know where she put it; she was so tiny.

As she set her empty plate on the nightstand, Rourk asked, “Do you want more?”

She shook her head. Her face was drawn and sad, though she was trying to hide it. “It’s going to be hard having you gone again so soon.”

“We were able to spend Christmas together,” Rourk reminded her, remembering the day they’d decorated their tree. He’d missed their first Christmas as a married couple because he was overseas, so this year, they’d gone all out—lights on the inside
and
outside of the bungalow. It had looked like a gingerbread house.

Keegan pouted. “Three months isn’t long enough.”

Rourk traced his fingers through her hair, wishing he could do something to take that look off her face. “It’s hard for me, too.”

Keegan leaned into his touch, her face cradled in his palm. “I know you love it. You don’t have to pretend for me.”

“But I love you more,” Rourk said seriously. “More than anything.”

Keegan gave him the impish smile that drove him crazy. She lifted the covers up. “Why don’t you come over here and show me?”

With a grin on his face, Rourk tossed his shirt off and joined Keegan under the covers. A plate smashed to the floor and broke, and there were crumbs between the sheets, but she just giggled and captured his lips with her own.

Gods, he loved the sound of her laugh. He couldn’t get enough of her, and knew he never would. Keegan was his chosen, his other half, and she made his life worth living.

CHAPTER 2   

“Make sure you email,” Keegan said, putting the last of the breakfast dishes in the dishwasher. She reached for the liquid dish soap under the sink. “I know you don’t like computers, but I need to hear from you as much as possible.” She paused and added, “So I don’t go crazy.”

“I’ll email you every day if I can. Maybe we can even chat sometimes.” Rourk stooped to close the door after Keegan filled the soap dispenser. As the dishwasher whirred to life, he said, “If you don’t hear from me, it’s not because I don’t want to be on the computer. It’s because I don’t have access.”

Keegan’s face fell and her eyes welled up, but she blinked back the tears. “This sucks. Feels like you just got back from that hellhole.”

“We’re making a difference over there,” Rourk reminded her, wiping his hands on the dish towel.

“I know. You’re right. I just wish you didn’t have to spend so much time away.” Keegan looked down at her bare toes and cleared her throat. “Sorry. I know I’m being selfish. It’s just really hard when you’re gone. I miss you so much.”

 

Rourk knew it was an argument he couldn’t win. He ran his hands down her arms and pulled her close, his strong arms wrapping around her waist. Dropping his chin on her head, he inhaled her intoxicating scent—something uniquely Keegan. Uniquely
his
.

The long bouts of separation weren’t easy for him either, but he had to try to be strong for Keegan. She tilted her head back, and he kissed her deeply. Their bodies seemed to fuse together, becoming one.

Rourk would have given anything to not have to break that kiss. The times when he’d left before hadn’t felt so hard. It seemed that way in retrospect, but of course that wasn’t true. It had always been hard to part from Keegan.

Reluctantly, he pulled away. Her face was flushed, eyes bright and lips swollen. He wanted to take her back to the bedroom, but there wasn’t time for that. Unfortunately.

He grabbed her necklace off the counter. Gently, he swept her hair to the side and clasped the chunky pink quartz concoction around her slender neck. Keegan’s mother, Emerald, had made the healing necklace for her daughter the first time she’d been apart from Rourk. The jewelry would keep the pain from being too much to bear while they were apart.

Over three years ago, before they were married, a battle had been fought between the side of the light elves and the dark. Keegan’s father, Richard, had been the leader of the light, and as such, Keegan and her family had traveled to the battlefield to aid the soldiers as they came off fighting. But in the midst of the war, Keegan got caught in the crossfire.

And she’d died.

Rourk hugged her tightly now, remembering the anguish of that moment. He’d thought he’d lost her forever, when a spiritwalker—the mother of one of Keegan’s best friends—had come and brought Keegan back to life in exchange for a favor Emerald had done for her. But the cost of such black magick had left a few unexplainable side effects, one of which was that when physically separated from her chosen, Keegan was afflicted with such incredible pain it caused her to keel over. The necklace kept the pain at bay.

BOOK: Rourk (Keegan's Chronicles Series Book 4)
13.32Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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