Dragonhearts - Page 7

Rolph's smile in response to that was an ugly, ugly thing. “You say that almost like you have a choice in the matter,” he sneered. “Let me show you just how wrong you are about that . . .” He reached out for her with intent as obvious as it was obviously unfriendly.

I'll say this for the girl, she had reflexes. I was still forcibly reminding myself that killing the lout wasn't necessarily the correct response here around the time Rolph was just managing his first shocked intake of breath from a fetal position in the dirt.

“No, let me show you,” Elfreda said in a cool and conversational tone. “Feel fortunate that I did not break your knee and leave you lasting lame as I could have done.” Elfreda knelt down so Rolph could better see the seriousness in her eyes. “Touch me again, though, and I shall do just that,” she added.

Hate never looks good on anyone, but even through his pain Rolph managed to take the look to news depths. “I'll . . .” he started to say.

“Hush,” Elfreda whispered, placing her fingers on his lips as if he were a child. “No,” she said kindly. “You shall not. It would be best for you that you not even try.” Then she stood and walked away without so much as a backward glance.

I followed, of course.

“I trust that met with your approval, yes?” she asked once we were deep enough in the woods that our privacy was assured. I know she couldn't have seen or heard me, but I didn't bother to ask how she knew I was there.

“No,” I answered with a chuckle. “You were too kind to him, far kinder than I would have been.”

“I know,” Elfreda said with a smile without looking around for the source of my voice, something I think she did just to irk me. “And that is half the reason I did not ask for your help.”

“And the other half?” I asked.

She laughed softly at the question, pleased that she had gotten me to ask, and it was almost as if the nearby flowers bloomed a little brighter at the sound of it. “Because I truly did not need your help.”

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