They stared at each other for a heartbeat, before she bolted off. Faster than a deer, she scampered through the leaf-fall, and was gone.
He shook his head, staring at the half-finished sketch on his lap, then back over his shoulder. He hadn’t. He didn’t.
There was no denying it.
It was her.
She was stunning.
She was tall, slender, and naked.
He didn’t know if it was appropriate to get a hard-on from a fey creature, yet his cock had risen. He shifted a bit, seeking comfort from the dull throb. His mind recalled her willowy frame. Her breasts, though small, were perfectly formed. Her flat belly had met at the junction of thighs, and he recalled that she was hairless. Yet she was not a child. Her eyes were old with secrets.
Much as he wanted to bolt after her, he knew somehow that she would evade him. Had he tried that as a child of the woods? He didn’t remember, really. But within him was a fleeting sense of recognition.
Her heart raced like a squirrel being chased by a fox. She had stopped running, and lay against the bark of an old oak. Pressing her face against the rough bark, she caressed each fold, comforting herself.
He didn’t chase her.
She could see him from her vantage point. He still sat, a stunned look upon his face. His kind were bad. This she had known for so many suns. She had seen hunters with their noisy weapons, seeking the deer that roamed here. She had seen hikers, throwing trash to the ground, all pretty smells that lured creatures to them, yet once consumed, sickened them. Yet, she had seen this one before, and he had never lifted a hand against anything. She had watched when he hit another of his kind, then contained him and pulled him from the forest. She had watched him move through the woods like one of her kind, silent and respectful.
She wondered why she had run from him. He haunted her dreams sometimes. He was tall, but not much moreso than she. He was gentle, yet she had seen his strength. Sometimes she wondered other things, when she watched the deer rutting in the spring. When she heard the skunks screeching during their mating. When the throb between her own thighs was nearly unbearable.
She was old enough to mate. Yet there were none of her kind near, and none that she was interested in.
Seeing him here, so deeply into her part of the woods had disturbed her. Had disturbed the flow of nature. She should shoo him away. She stood behind the tree and watched.
He felt her.
He couldn’t explain it more than that, but he knew it. He felt her eyes taking stock. He continued with the sketch, adding details. The flowing ripple of her hair, the wave that ran from her forehead to curl below her breast.
He paused as he debated a moment about adding details to that area. He spoke softly to the trees, to her.
“I know you are there. I’ve seen you now, or I should say, I’ve now seen you again. I’ve missed you. I dream of you.”
The words hung in the dappled light, in the green swale. The scent of pine was everywhere, that and the scent of decaying moulder that spoke eloquently of deep woods, of echoes of autumns come and gone, and new life sprouting deep roots.
His heart tripped a beat, but he kept his attention on his sketchbook. He drew in the backdrop of trees, the alderberry, the birch, the hemlock. His pencil flew across the paper, adding details and dimension.
“I do. I have for a long time. Since I saw you as a boy.”
Her voice was soft like the wind through the treetops. He knew she was closer now, but he dared not look up and frighten her.
“It was long ago, but I’ve never forgotten you.”
“And what do you dream of, man?”
He smiled. He hadn’t been called “man” like that before.
“Nash. My name is Nash.”