If  I Never Knew You
In a time that could have been in a place never far from here.

By Jen South
He looked at her then, her dark hair loose and tumbled with bits of straw
glinting gold in its darkness.  Her eyes were darker still and shinning. 
She was laughing silently, full lips smiling, looking wild and alive, and
he had never seen her look that way before.  She was irresistible and the
desire to touch her was pain.  So was the desire to do more than simply
touch her.
She turned her face to him then, looking over her shoulder, teeth very
white in the darkness of her face.
"And so", she said and her eyes danced, "we are free another day."
He chuckled, leaned over and began picking straw from her hair.
"You look like a wild thing" he murmured.
"I am wild" her voice and eyes hardened, defensive again, as she batted
his hand away from her hair.
But he wasn't letting her get away this time and he caught her wrist in
his hand, leaning forward to rest over her on the hand he had planted next
to her waist.
"I know.  I like it."
He saw the surprise in her eyes, the skitter of mistrust.  But he also
caught the flicker of belief before she buried it and it made him smile. 
He brushed her hair back from her face, freeing her wrist.
"Careful.  You might start trusting me, Love."
He expected her to pull back, expected anger at his teasing to flash into
her eyes, expected her to snap out harsh words at him.  Instead, she raised
a hand, ran a slender finger down his throat to touch its base, and her
lips curved at their edges in a wicked smile as he fought to keep his eyes
from closing.
"Careful" she warned, "You may wish me to stay."
She moved away from him then, and he forced himself to let her go. 
Because if he didn't, he was going to do something she might regret.  He
knew he wouldn't.
He watched her move over to the corner of the croft, curl like a cat into
a pile of straw.  The summer night was mild and he could feel Autumn in
it's promise.  Somehow, some way, he was going to have to get her to a ship
soon.  So that he cold take her home.  Because he would rather lose her to
the New World than the Old.  Even if he couldn't stand thinking of losing
her at all.
He settled himself against a pile of burlap sacks, absent-mindedly picked
up a piece of straw and began peeling it.
"Good night, Pocahontas" he murmured but she heard him.
"Rebecca" she corrected mildly.  "I am Rebecca, John-Smith."
He sat and watched her sleep.  She was dressed in a simple, 'borrowed' milk
maid's dress, a far cry from the ornate concoction she had been wearing the
first time he had seen her.  No stiff hoops held this skirt away from
shaping her long legs, no short jacket and rich embroidery restrained and
hid the soft curves that this blouse and corset worshipped.  She was too
familiar, from the sun warmed skin to the way her eyes crinkled in their
corners when she was puzzled.  When he touched her, his body knew how she
would feel.  He even knew how she would taste.  And when he closed his eyes
- ah God! - when he closed his eyes her saw her smile at him, watched her
laugh, run, dancing in the rain.  He saw her in a black shirt he knew was
his.  He saw her tumbled and sleeping in the covers of a bed he knew was
his.  He saw her face alive with passion as she raised it for his kiss.  A
thousand tiny things he had never seen her doing.  Her deep eyes, her tiny
bursts of mischief.  He recognized them as if he had seen them a hundred
times before.
When he had first seen her in Rolfe's house, in that one instant, when all
the ice and steel had slipped from her dark eyes and she had whispered his
name.  Not John-Smith.  John.  As if she spoke the name of his soul. 
Storms off the Cape, he had almost kissed her!  Right in front of her
husband.  As if he and John Rolfe didn't have enough problems as it was. 
And he knew he'd never seen her before.  But that night, he had dreamed. 
Of her, always of her.  And they were dreams from a life he had never had,
that they had never shared.  Her name had been on his lips when he woke. 
And every night after.  Maybe the Indians were right.  Maybe the soul did
have a name, that knowledge of that name gave power over the person the
soul belonged to.  And maybe, she had found his.  He looked over at her,
twisted on her side in her sleep, one arm raised to cushion her head, dark
hair tangled.  So familiar.
Then the dreams had turned dark.  He had visited Thomas' church, hoping to
find solace.  But she had been there, singing in a voice like some mad,
wild angel and her voice had torn his heart out.  Because he heard it in
his dreams.  He had spoken to Thomas then, about her, and he had learned
her fate.  Given to the church secretly, because she was too unmanageable,
too wild.  Given to have a demon she didn't have driven from her heathen
soul.  And both he and Tam knew how exorcisms went.  So he had done the
only thing he could.  He had kidnapped her.
Looking at her now, soft and gentle in her sleep, he smiled.  She had been
so furious!  Utterly beautiful, but as furious as a wildcat.  Furious to be
taken from the place that would finally grant her the relief of death.  He
had sworn to get her home.  He knew John Rolfe.  He knew her husband would
do anything to get her back, especially after he learned who had taken her.
But he also knew that Rolfe would never let the country know that he had
lost his wife.  More likely, he'd claim she had died of some sickness and
bury her 'body' in some out of the way town.  If he could just get her back
to the New World, there was a good chance she could just disappear.  And
Rolfe would never be able to touch him.  Not Captain John Smith, the
queen's favorite adventurer.  Especially since there was no crime he could
claim.  All he had to do was get her home.  And maybe then these memories
and dreams that weren't his would go away.  And God help him when they did.
She shifted in her sleep, moaned his name in a whisper of a cry.  John. 
She said she didn't know him, had never seen him before.  He didn't believe
Quiet, he moved over to where she lay, touched her face, settled down next
to her, shifting so that her back curved against him.  Tears ran down her
smooth cheeks and he wrapped his arms around her, pulled her close.  Her
dreams at night kept her from being the light sleeper he knew she was.  She
whispered his name, soft, always so soft, and twisted in his arms, buried
her face against his shoulder, wound her slender arms around his neck.  He
couldn't stop himself.  Hungry, he buried his face in her hair, catching
its scent, its softness.  He pressed a kiss to her throat, chest tight with
her silent tears.  He would pay dearly, in blood if need be, if there were
a way to ease away the pain that caught up with her at night.
She cried herself into a deeper sleep in his arms, lips moving against his
throat in whispers in a language he didn't know but that sounded heart
wrenchingly familiar.  She always slept deep after the tears and he held
her, cradled against him, soft, intimate.  As long as he was gone by the
time the sun rose and she woke, she'd never know he had been here to hold
her all night.  She gave a sigh against him and it shot right through his
body to lodge in his heart.  Without thinking, he leaned down and softly
kissed her.
He wasn't prepared for the response he got.
Her slender arms twined around him, one of her hands tangling long fingers
in his hair.  Her lips softened, parted under his, welcoming, hungry.  She
shifted and her body suddenly fit his perfectly, intimately.  She whispered
his name, a moan against his lip.  And his body answered hers.
I must be mad, he thought.  And then he slanted his mouth over hers and
there was no more thought.
His hands knew exactly where they belonged, curled around her hip and
spread across her shoulder blades.  A hundred times, he had dreamed of
holding her this way.  The dreams hadn't done her justice for all their
vividness.  They hadn't paid proper tribute to her heat, the satin way she
moved in his arms, the soft slide of fabric against the skin underneath. 
Both hands tangled long finger into his hair, her lips alive and hungry
under his.  She was fast driving him from his mind.  And welcome to it.
Except that she came to him while she was asleep and that wasn't the way he
wanted her.  This felt like an ambush.  As if he had tricked her.  And he
wasn't that kind of man.  No matter how tempting it was.  Besides, if he
was truthful with himself, and he always tried to be, he wanted more from
her than just her body.  As much as he wanted that part of her too.  He
wanted to see the passion blaze in her eyes first.  Wanted to hear his name
purposeful on her lips.  And, fool that he was, he wanted her to love him. 
Because to take her without her love, wasn't to really have her at all. 
And if he was going to have her, he wanted all of her.
Oh, he was a fool all right.  No doubting that.
He pressed kisses across her cheek, savoring the feel.  Then he raised his
head, freed the hand tangled in her hair to brush strands of it away from
her glowing skin, tracing the curve of her throat, before he kissed her
again.  Gentle kisses, pressed softly, reverently, to her forehead, her
closed eyes, her jaw and chin.  The curve of her ear.  Where her jaw and
throat met.  Where her shoulder and throat met.  He kissed the tip of her
nose and watched her smile.  It stopped the air in his lungs and he lowered
his face into her hair, his cheek against hers, just so that he could 
breath.  Drowsy, slowly, she nuzzled his throat before she pressed her face
into it and sighed.  Her body still twined against his and he couldn't
force himself to try to correct it.  Instead, he wrapped her in his arms
again and gave a sigh of his own, though his was founded in exasperation.
She was turning his brain into oat mush.
He'd slipped tonight.  Slipped dangerously.  A silent chuckle, traced
through with bitterness shook his chest.
"Pocahontas, if I were a fool, I would fall in love with you" he whispered.
God's mercy, he couldn't afford to be a fool.

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