He spun, seizing her wrist with the precision and speed of a coiled snake. Had Nala’s focus not been so intent on plunging the dagger into his spine, she might have seen the waft of his robe or heard the creak of the floor beneath him. She fell into his arms – the dagger bounced on the floor and landed behind him.
The room returned to the silence Nala witnessed when she first entered, her breath and heart the only sounds detected. His gaze shifted from the wrists he gripped to Nala’s face and settled on her eyes. The honey orbs roamed across her face as if discerning what had happened.
Honey eyes? Nala thought as he stared.
“It is you,” she whispered, the scream she had trapped in her throat would have alerted the guard.
“And you,” he replied, his whisper a combination of awe and mirth.
Eyes locked, the two said no more, frozen in time – quite the opposite from the downward thrust of the dagger.
Nala was the first to look away, her eyes settled on the dagger a few feet behind him. The man sighed as he saw the scheming in Nala’s eyes. His honey eyes flickered to match Nala’s gaze.
The dagger lie on the open floor, a testament to Nala’s plans. Impetuous plans. Sad plans. Failed plans…
His eyes told of sadness and disappointment. His lips settled into a frown. He exhaled a sharp breath. “You wish to assassinate me?” he asked in a voice eerily calm for the situation.
Nala struggled against him, as she did against any binding of servitude. He countered each attempt with grace in form, and the same sad, disappointed frown.
“Release me!” she hissed between her teeth set in a jaw clenched.
The grip on Nala’s wrists tightened. “Why would I?” The passion she had seen in the marketplace was there again, but this time it teetered on madness.
Nala continued to struggle fruitlessly against him. Each heartbeat radiated pain from his grip. Every sense she possessed warned her of the hopelessness of her situation. Nala fought back tears. “Release me,” she pleaded.
He said nothing, Nala cringed in the intensity of his stare. It was as if she looked into the sun and it threatened to blind her. His calm demeanor contrasted to her feeble struggling.
“Who are you?” she asked, ignoring his composure and her lack of it.
His brow furrowed, projecting skepticism and disbelief. “You would assassinate me, not knowing who I am?”
Nala’s vision clouded, the tears she fought to hold back demanding release. She squeezed her eyes closed and repeated her mantra: “Release me!”
“Answer me,” he demanded.
“Release me,” she pleaded.
He pulled her close, their faces separated by inches. “You will answer me, slave, or I will end you with your own dagger – your murderous explanation left unsaid.”