The Last of His Kind(6)

By: Doris O Connor

"Err, yes, sorry." She shot him a worried glance. "I know it tastes foul, but you had such a fever and it works for that, much better than any modern pills, if I had them in the house, which I don't, ‘cause mum would never…err…well, never mind, you don't need to hear about that." She muttered something else under her breath, and he cupped her chin to make her look up at him. He couldn't have heard that right.

"She would never do what? Your mother was a witch?"

She paled and winced, and he forced himself to relax the grip on her chin. Her skin was so delicate; she would have bruises in the morning, another reason to leave her well alone.

"No, she wasn't a witch. Don't be silly. At least not in the 'stir things in a cauldron and hex people kinda way'. She merely believed in the power of nature and utilizing what the gods gave us. So we never had medicines, just her brews. We never had a telly or modern conveniences either, and on the rare occasion we had meat, we had to thank the spirits. I know it sounds crazy, but it worked for her. That doesn't make her a witch or nasty or, damn it, I don't even know why I'm telling you all this."

Her voice wobbled, and tears gathered in her eyes. She blinked furiously and pushed her bottom lip out.

"Anyway all that doesn't matter anymore, because she passed on three months ago. If she was here, you'd be healed already, or maybe not. She'd have had more sense than to take in a naked man, who seems to have either appeared out of the Loch or fallen from the sky."

"Then she sounded a wise woman, and I'm sorry for your loss. It can't have been easy growing up with a mother like her though." He knew it hadn't been. He'd overheard enough arguments between mother and daughter, during their summers here. Not for the first time he wondered why her family chose to stay this close to the Loch. If Penelope's mother was in tune with the forces of nature, witch ancestry or not, she would have known who exactly lurked in the depths of the Loch. It certainly explained her complete refusal to allow her daughter anywhere near the waters.

Penelope sniffed in answer and shook his hand off, returning her attention to his wound.

"Well, yes, though she was unreasonably paranoid about the Loch. You wouldn't believe the tales she used to tell me."

"What tales? The one about man-eating monsters by any chance?" He couldn't quite keep the bitterness out of his voice.

Penelope didn't seem to notice. She'd grasped his hips and turned him sideways, so she could study his wound better. He waited for the predictable reaction of disgust, surprised how much the thought of her finding him distasteful hurt. She did gasp, but in a concerned way.

"This really doesn't look good. You're having some sort of reaction here. What on earth was in that dart? And why did you get shot with that anyway? I know you're big, but even those dumb hunters couldn't mistake you for Nessie now." She smiled up at him, a slight flush across her cheekbones giving her thoughts away as clearly as her intensified scent. "Though perhaps you're the dumb one, taking a swim in the Loch this early in the morning. I'm assuming that's what you were doing?"

He simply smiled, and she rolled her eyes at him.

"Why on earth would you do that, really?" She shook her head at him. "And how far have you swum? There's not another house this side of the Loch for ages. Anything could have happened to you."

"Afraid of your mother's man-eating monsters?"

The slap to his chest hurt, and the fury behind it surprised him.

"There are no such things as man-eating monsters. Not in the Loch anyway. Nessie never harmed anyone, and if you believe that, then you're just another stupid idiot." She stepped away from him, shaking her head. "Oh what's the use? This is getting us nowhere. I think the best thing we can do is get you back to wherever you came from, so that you can get that seen to. And you need to file a report with Euan. Those bloody trophy hunters could have killed you."

She ran out of steam, as he stood watching her, not quite daring to believe her outrage on behalf of his kind.

"Unless you can't go to Euan, because…Damn it, you said you couldn't leave. Why can't you?"

"Well, for starters I haven't got any clothes." He chuckled at her sharp intake of breath, when he dropped the material he'd used to cover his arousal. "Of course if you don't mind, then let's go."

"Err, do you mind? Let me find you something better to cover up with. You'll do someone an injury with…with that."

She wrenched her eyes up to his face, only for her gaze to stray back down to his hardening cock. Her breathing grew shallow, and the scent of her arousal in the air made his mind up. He would deal with the aftermath in the morning. He needed to heal, and he had the perfect means to achieve that standing in front of him. It had been way too long. He just hoped he could control his true self.

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