"How can you be a troll? They don't really exist." Breanna shook her head. "You're too handsome. At least now you're handsome. You're like a warrior and very clever. That's not a troll."
"So you've heard stories of trolls, and you believe these stories are true? Yet you think trolls are fiction?" He chuckled. "That's not consistent logic."
"Yes." She nodded. "I mean, no." She shook her head, confused. "I don't know. Sometimes, it's hard to know what's real."
"Well, there are trolls. I'm testament to that. I am a master craftsman, an artisan among the troll peoples. Axel Venrick at your service." He bowed, then took her hand. She did not resist. He kissed the back of it, and heat rushed to her face. From where his lips touched her hand, a powerful sensation traveled through her, much like the ring's effect.
"Good day, Axel Venrick." She curtsied, her heart pounding in her chest. She was not afraid. Instead, she felt enamored. "It's been an experience meeting you." She'd never been close to a handsome man. Not only was he handsome, he was powerful. She liked his power. She knew she should be fearful of him, but she yearned for the excitement he brought. Waves of reassurance seemed to vibrate from her ring, relaxing her, helping her trust him.
"I'm not always as you just witnessed, it's only when I allow myself to transform to frighten others or to serve whatever purpose I need. But most think trolls to be ugly and monstrous. It's what they remember. Plus, I'm hardly dim-witted." He grinned. "I like to think I'm rather clever. Those tales you've heard are only tales. All tales have bits of truth mixed with fiction. They've been made and spread by humans. Humans are often inaccurate."
"Trolls are mean," she challenged. "Right?"
"Yes, at times. Humans are as well. All beings can be mean. Look at Hugh. He's a monster, just not a very powerful one."
"Yes, he is." She played with the rose Axel had given her. It smelled wonderful on this winter's day.
"I don't deny trolls are selfish, territorial, predatory, and scheming, or at least we can be. Doesn't it sound like Hugh?"
"Yes." She nodded. "You admit those things about trolls?"
"Would you wish me to lie? I'm not a saint or even close. As I said, the tales are mixed with truth and fiction. Trolls do have a reputation for being unpleasant at times. I can be unpleasant if need be."
"You can be unpleasant? I don’t believe it," she teased him, grinning.
"What's your name, lass? I like your quick wit." He smiled down at her.
"Lovely name. It's a great pleasure to have found you, Breanna Devion." Again, he bowed at the waist. "You're lovely beyond words. I can tell you have a tender heart. May I come in to visit more with you? Will you serve me a drink at your table? I wish to know you, and I want to answer all questions you may have."
She studied him for several moments. "I don't know." She backed further into the house, the door still open, just looking at him.
"Breanna, if I intended to harm you, I would have done it by now. This door cannot stop me. You've seen my power. I intend you no harm. I wish only to bring you pleasure, to keep you safe. I've looked for you especially. My heart as well as my body has been lonely." At his words, her heart raced more.
"Go wait out there." She pointed out into the yard a distance from the house. "I need to think. You make me…nervous."
"Out there?" He nodded to where she'd pointed.
"Yes, I'll think about it. Your closeness confuses me." She stepped forward and closed the door.
"Breanna. Breanna Devion, open your door to me."
"I said I want to think about it," she yelled through the door. "If you are as you say, you will wait."
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