Wild Ones: Who?
All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2012 Zoey Daniels
This e-book file contains sexually explicit scenes and adult language which some may find offensive and which is not appropriate for a young audience. Changeling Press E-Books are for sale to adults, only, as defined by the laws of the country in which you made your purchase. Please store your files wisely, where they cannot be accessed by under-aged readers.
Better. Much better. The owls stirred and shifted on their perches, both exposed beams and fallen branches she'd brought in here to provide perches for them. She breathed in the wild scent of feathers, and closed her eyes, all the better to imagine herself surrounded by the small noises of owls waking for the night.
"Hello, little ones," she said, once they'd grown accustomed to her. She opened her eyes to watch the owls test their wings and preen one another. Only three tonight, large males. "You've decided to claim the best spot for yourselves, have you? Smart of you."
They blinked their fathomless black eyes at her, deep as pools of ink surrounded by snow white feathers; they shuffled and chirred, reminding her of a circle of wise men, bent in study over a book. Only she was the book. One cocked his head to the side.
She didn't laugh out loud; she'd learned to let the sound of her laugh show in her smile. Yes, just the shape.
That tune. Rosemary couldn't get it out of her head. Words had begun to come back to her. "Lavender's blue, and rosemary's green," she sang under her breath. What was the rest? She hummed the melody through to its completion. The owls stared and shuffled on their perches. Not alarmed. Only curious. "You are brave if you can stand up to my singing," she said. "Though since owls don't sing, perhaps you've no idea what a tune should sound like." She tapped her foot to the music, imagining it as large as life and played by skilled hands.
The smallest of the owls hopped off its perch, sinking up to his talons in the straw. She smothered a laugh as he shook out his feathers and hopped back. All three watched her toes, dancing out the rhythm.
"Does that interest you? I am acting not quite like myself, I suppose; it's good you're patient fellows." Rosemary mimicked their tilting of the head. "It's called dancing. Shall I show you?"
Why not? No harm in whimsy, as long as she didn't frighten her friends. Rosemary stood, careful to move slowly, raising her arms as if they were wings. She toed off her shoes -- no owl would let a snake or a spider live in this barn, nor less a rat -- and bent her arms to the position she'd taken when dancing. "Like this, do you see?"
From the sound of their dubious chirrs and quiet hoots, they did not see, but nor were they afraid. Rosemary closed her eyes and turned around in a circle, humming to herself.
When you are king,
I shall be queen.
Rosemary's smile widened, memories warming her. She'd danced with a man once. A human man, that was, a student of her father's. He'd fled Leman with all the others, but she remembered he'd been sweet, with a kind mouth and big, clumsy, gentle hands. A lovely lad in her memory. He'd gone and she'd stayed, but she remembered the night when they'd danced -- and more -- until the dawn rose...
There had been owls that night, hadn't there? She'd forgotten that until now, but yes, now she remembered. She'd bared her body for a man for the first time in the last gleams of summer sunlight, in a cozy hideaway like this not so far from this one, sleepy owls watching from the rafters. He'd hummed the song to her and turned her around in whimsical circles, promising her his love. He'd have kept his word, if he could.
Rosemary didn't want to open her eyes. Not if she were to be alone again. Why not make it last? She could. She had every right to lose herself in a flight of fancy, twirling around and about, straw and good earth dusty between her toes. She tipped her head back, remembering the press of the young scholar's lips just there, at her throat, and -
A small noise broke the spell with a pop. Not much as noises went, but only those who walked on two legs could clear their throats. Only humans could do it in a way that suggested uncertainty.
"Oh." Rosemary's heart pounded with the surprise. She put her hand over the thundering pulse and almost lost her balance. Her hair fell out of its queue again and fluffed around her face; good grief, what next?
"Apologies, lady." The male in the doorway took off his hat in an old, old gesture of respect. She hadn't seen the like since the days of scholars. "I didn't mean to startle you."
Rosemary could only stare. Good lord. "You're human," she said to the young man. Her cheeks burned hot. "What are you doing here?"
"I heard singing --" He stopped. "Apologies. I've embarrassed you, too, haven't I?"
"Not really. And I hardly think you could call it music," Rosemary said, rueful and beginning, despite herself, to be amused. Look at him. He was young, and as battered and worn by travel as if he'd walked afoot a hundred miles. Her heart went out to him. Her sense of curiosity, too. But she might be alone in that. The owls hissed and clacked their beaks, scraping their talons on the perches she'd built for them.
"Come outside, where we won't disturb them," she said. "You have a story to tell, I think, and the owls might not be keen but I want to hear it."