Hunter and Emma strolled hand-in-hand through the city of Raeledo. Hunter planned to kill a Catoblepas over the weekend to prove he was capable of protecting and providing for a wife. Hunter pulled Emma closer and wrapped his arm around her lower back. Emma smiled up at him. He lowered his head and kissed her lips, soft and slow. Then his lips traveled down her jawline and neck. When his lips brushed the hollow of her collarbone, she pushed away.
“Hunter, we’re in the middle of the street.”
“So what? You know you like when I kiss that spot.” He wiggled his eyebrows at her.
She giggled, took his hand in hers once again, and leaned against him. “Come on. I want to see the statue in the middle of the square.”
“You really believe the legend surrounding that old statue?”
She took a deep breath and released it slowly. “I don’t know, but it’s a wonderfully romantic idea.”
“Don’t you think if the legend was real, something would’ve happened by now?”
Emma shrugged and they kept walking.
They entered the square at twilight, the sky alight with brilliant pinks, purples, and a bit of red. Emma’s eyes fell on the statue. “I didn’t know it would be so beautiful. The rose color enfolding it gives her a lifelike blushed skin tone.”
Hunter raised his eyes from Emma to the four hundred year old statue. It was in mint condition. The Harlequin Transdocrocite the artist had sculpted it from was pristine yellow, and the pink light shining on her face certainly made her appear lifelike. His eyes slid over the contour of her jawline to her full lips, then continued down her slender neck and well-rounded body, down her shapely legs to her bare arched feet. The artist had sculpted her dress to look as though it were being blown backward by a strong wind, causing it to cling and reveal the front of her body. The long pin-curls streamed toward the back of her head, and she reached out with her right hand.
“She’s amazing. It’s so sad. She’s been here lonely and waiting all these years. Hunter … Hunter?”
He jerked his head from the statue. He blinked to clear his vision and found it difficult not to return his gaze to the statue. “What is it Em?”
She pulled her phone cam-puter out of her back pocket. “You’ve got to hold her hand and let me take your picture.”
“Oh, I don’t think that’s a good idea.” Hunter shook his head.
“Why not? Are you afraid you might be her soulmate?”
Hunter emitted a nervous laugh. “Of course not … but what happens to us, if I am?” His eyes locked with Emma’s.
After a minute, Emma slapped him on the arm. “Of all the men that must’ve touched her hand over the past four hundred years, you think you’re the one? Now come on, take her hand.”
Hunter looked at the statue again. The pink no longer blushed her cheeks. He slid his sweaty palms down his pants, cleared his throat, and touched his fingertips to the statue’s.
Emma dropped her phone cam-puter and her lower jaw went slack.
Hunter turned to look at the statue. The podium was empty. A shadow fell over him. He looked up just in time to stretch out his arms. Oomph! A woman landed in his arms causing him to bend in half. He managed not to drop her then straighten into an upright position again. He looked into the eyes that had belonged to a statue just moments ago—eyes, confused and startled. Hunter helped her to stand, but she clung to his arm. Her soft touch on his arm caused an electrical current to jolt up his arm and down his back. His heart rate rose. He turned toward the woman and raised his free hand to cup her face.
“The legend is real.” He whispered.
She turned her face into his hand and kissed his palm, then her eyes met his. “I’ve waited such a long time for you.” Her voice fluctuated in pitch and she spoke with a rhythm. It was like a song.
“What’s your name?”
“Donatella. And you are?”
“Hunter … you’re soulmate.” He drew her into a tight embrace, a feeling he’d never known flowing through him; an insatiable craving for this woman and a fierce protectiveness toward her.
The moment was broken by a guttural, ear-splitting sob that came from the depths of the soul. Emma’s soul.
Hunter looked over the shoulder of the woman in his arms. Emma was on her knees, wailing, with tears coursing down her cheeks. He caught her gaze.
He mouthed, “I’m sorry.” Then he lifted Donatella in his arms again and walked away.