A Centaur's LovebyAMY_Monaco©
Author's note: This is a continuation of Centaur's Reluctant Mate. I had planned on ending Thayer and Rose's story there, with only snippets of them in Callum and later, Soren's stories. But they've become quite popular, so I've decided to expand on their characters. Thanks so much for those who've taken time to comment. Your opinions are a great help. So here is Callum's story - enjoy!
Callum pounded the burning metal, manipulating it, shaping it. The heat of the forge was overwhelming and it always smelled of smoke. His arms ached from constant force, but it was what gave him his large, broad shoulders and built arms heavy with muscle. Sweat trickled down his chest as he slid the blade into a tub of water, steam watering his eyes as the cooling metal hissed.
After a satisfactory inspection, he set the blade down. He would sharpen it later. Another will give the sword its final touch, be it intricate carvings significant to its future owner or embellishing it with gems or leather on the handle. Those details, Callum paid little attention to. It was the sword itself that he enjoyed creating.
The sword represented strength, leadership, and loyalty.
He smirked as he wiped sweat from his forehead. Loyalty. The meaning brought forth memories of his mate.
No. Katerina was no longer his mate.
That night, he ate alone in his longhouse. His brother Thayer and his mate, Rose of nearly eight months had invited him to dine with them. But Callum hadn't felt like socializing.
Thayer and Rose were to be parents soon. Thayer was overjoyed. While he was happy for them, Callum couldn't help but think of Antony, his own son -- dead these three years past. He would be six now if he'd lived.
He suddenly needed air. The longhouse was an empty place without the voices of family. He could remember the days when he used to weave stories for Antony and the sound of Katerina laughing, back when she was still happy. Had she ever been truly happy with Callum? It was a question that haunted him still.
Callum stepped out into the cold. Autumn had passed quickly into winter and soon, spring would come. The biting winds were strong today and they surrounded his sweating body, though he did not shiver from it. He took to a gallop, filling his lungs deep with cool air as the wind began to whip through his shoulder length chestnut colored hair.
He did this often, going out in the night to clear his head. His restless soul seemed to thrive on the seclusion of darkness. By himself, there was no one to question him, no one to offer comfort that never helped. Alone, he was left to his memories, both happy and tragic.
Lila clutched the tiny sack to herself as she ran. She ran as fast as her legs would take her without bothering to glance back. If she weren't fast enough, Henry would find her. The thought of her fiancé made her heart leap in fear. She must get away.
How long had she been running for? It seemed like forever. She was grateful for the full moon, bright enough to allow her to avoid trees and steep hills. Small favors, she thought.
Her lungs burned from running, her feet hurt and she was cold. The thin coat she put on over her nightgown wasn't enough and certainly the one dress she'd put in her sack wouldn't be any better.
She had no idea where she was going to go. She'd thought about starting another life in a new village or town, one that was miles away if she knew it would help. But Henry would somehow find her. He'd done so once before.
As if he thinking about him could summon him, she glanced back as she jumped off a tiny dip in the hill and ran right into a tree trunk.
"Ooph!" The impact knocked the breath out of her and she fell back, landing painfully on her bottom.
Lila had to push the hair away from her face to see. As she did, she froze. It wasn't a tree she ran into. As her eyes slowly looked up, the form before her soon took shape as what first appeared to be a horse. But then the upper half was that of a man soon became clear. A very well-formed man.
She couldn't take her eyes off him. The man, no, centaur was all muscle, possessing the broadest shoulders she'd ever seen. In fact, no man was as large as the one before her, with his sculpted hands and flat stomach. His dark hair was long, his face square with hair that was trimmed so that it traced the long angles of his jaw and lining his upper lip, leaving his cheeks bare. His nose was straight and those eyes, they seemed to faintly glow in the darkness.
Lila swallowed hard as the centaur met her gaze fiercely. "Are you going to kill me?"
Something flashed in his eyes, but his expression revealed nothing. "Do you deserve to die?" His voice was rough, like sandstone rubbing against each other, yet there was an underlining smoothness to it, deep and sensual.
"I-If you are going to kill me, then I beg you to make it a quick death. If he gets to me, he'll hurt me and make sure I am conscious to feel the pain."
"He?" The centaur stepped forward.
"Henry, my fiancé."
He said nothing for a moment, then, "Is that who you are running from?"
She nodded slowly. "Are you still going to kill me?"
To her surprise, he held his palm out to her. She hesitated, then accepted it as he pulled her to her feet. The feel of his large hand covering hers sent a shard of heat through her, causing her heart to skip.
"Your name, maiden."
"Lila of Greenwood Village."
"I am Callum." He bent down to retrieve her fallen sack. "It was never my intention to harm you." He added flatly.
"I'm sorry, Callum. I meant no offense because you are a centaur. It's only...if I was to die, I'd rather die by someone else's hand than Henry's."
"No man should ever harm a female. Where do you run to?"
"I'm not exactly sure." She bit her lip. "Do you know of any towns far away from Greenwood? Or of a port where I could book passage.... what is it?"
He was staring at her strangely. She looked down at herself and found nothing wrong, only that her coat fell open. Suddenly, Callum reach over and touched his fingers lightly to her collarbone, not enough to cause her pain, but enough to remind her. The bruises. Lila pulled back, but he held her by the shoulder as he pushed away the other side of her coat.
Callum was frowning, making him look even more dangerous. "He did this to you." It wasn't a question.
Lila could feel the shame redden her face. She looked away. "He says he does this out of affection." She became all too aware now that her nightgown dipped low at the neckline and he was still touching the skin above it. She quickly closed her coat.
"I need to get away before he finds me again."
He still held her sack. "Get on my back."
"I will take you to safety."
Callum was sure she would hesitate on his offer. After all, she was a human confronted with a centaur. Yet Lila didn't think twice and he helped her mount him.
By the time they arrived at his home, she'd fallen asleep on his back. He took off her coat and laid her down on the pillows and furs on the floor. He'd gotten rid of the bed when his son died.
He stood over her, watching her sleep. Her hair was a brown as rich as his, long and wavy, spread all over the pillows. Her features were delicate, soft and pale. Her nose was upturned and her mouth, bow-shaped and pink were parted in slumber.
When he first gazed upon her, he thought what he did now, that she was so tiny of stature that at first glance, she could have been mistaken as a girl. But on closer inspection, it was hard to dismiss her full breasts straining against her virginal nightgown. Through the sheer material he could see her tiny waist, the gently curves of her hips.
His cock stirred. The image of her sleeping so trustingly in his bed made him want to taste her. The sight of her parted lips had him yearning for the touch of a woman. He hadn't been with one since his mate had disappeared.
By the gods, he could easily span the width of her waist with his hand. Callum shook his head. He shouldn't have brought her here. She was young, vulnerable, and too small for him. Katerina had been a lush, curvy woman. Just looking at Lila made him think her fragile with the slightest rough touch. And that was exactly what he was. Rough. He was a blacksmith.
He, too, was tired and settled beside her. He found himself watching her. How could anyone want to hurt such a beautiful creature? The fury flowed through him still from seeing those bruises mar her skin. If he ever confronted this fiancé of hers, Callum wouldn't hesitate to kill him.
Suddenly, her tiny hand covered his. He looked up.
"Thank you." She sighed sleepily and then she was quiet. His eyes went back to their connecting hands. Hers was warm, so pale against his tanned one. Her touch made him long for something that had died along with his son and the discovery of his mate's betrayal.
Callum slipped his hand from Lila's and shut his heart out from what her touch aroused in him. He knew his attraction to her was based solely on lust.
"You bring a maiden into our camp, but she is not to be your mate?" Polonius asked. He was the head of the Elders, the council that held authority over the centaurs. Kate, Polonius's mate shook her head. Callum had gone to them that morning to tell them of Lila.
"Poor thing. Is she all right now?"
"I will see to the bruises once she is awake." Polonius spoke. "You say she is betrothed to a man, Henry. He is to blame for her injuries."
"Lila has told me as much."
The elder centaur touched his beard absently. "It is unusual for a centaur to bring a maiden to our camp without mating with her, Callum."
"I understand, Polonius."
Polonius held up his hand at the young man's brusque manner, though he was used to it when it came to Callum. "From this moment, she will be your responsibility."
"Perhaps she may mate with a centaur in the camp." Kate said cheerfully. Both centaurs turned to her. "Well you didn't think a young, capable and beautiful woman would go unnoticed, did you?"
Kate had four grown sons, all of them mated, and she was a romantic. It wasn't a surprise that Kate was imagining Lila mated to a centaur even before she met the woman. Somehow the thought of Lila mated to someone in the camp didn't sit well with him.
"The centaurs will be too busy to woo her." Callum said.
"Callum, I trust you to take caution with her." Polonius said suddenly. Callum's head shot up.
"I will make sure she harms no one. But I hardly think she would, given the manner she has been treated."
"You are quick to assume, Callum. I only meant that based on her past, she may be vulnerable. Your manners are abrupt sometimes and we are used to it, but she is not. Be gentle with her."
"I do not seek to harm her, either." Callum said, suddenly wanting to be anywhere but here. He sighed wearily. "I will try my best."
When he stepped out into the cold, the sky threatened with dark ominous clouds. Many longhouses now had pitched open tents in the front so that some could work out in the cold without being snowed or rained on. For centaurs, they could handle being out in the wintertime for a certain period of time without the cold affecting them.
But the cold months were for them to slow down, to enjoy the quiet with their families. Which reminded him that he needed to tell his brothers about his guest. He told Soren first, who seemed genuinely pleased.
"Do I call her sister or -- "
"I do not plan to make her my mate."
Callum frowned. "You haven't even met her yet." His younger brother shrugged. "Do you think she'd have me? I could -- "
"No." Callum answered flatly. Soren said nothing, then arched an eyebrow at his brother.
"I think you desire her for your own, brother."
Now Callum scowled and started for the doorway. "I came to tell you so you will not barge into my home while Lila is dressing."
"I think you should make her yours. An unmated female in our camp will cause a stir. I will accept your refusal of my suit, but others will not."
Callum knew Soren's words held truth and was reminded of this after telling Thayer and Rose.
"That is wonderful news." Rose said brightly. "I shall visit her very soon."
His brother's mate glowed with happiness and why should she not? There was nothing Thayer would not do for her. Even now, when Rose was heavy with child, Thayer took every care with her.
Callum was heading home when he saw Lila talking to Scorpius. They stood under the pitched tent in front of his home. Lila was wearing that thin coat of hers and she hugged herself for extra warmth. He will have to see to finding her something warmer.
Scorpius must have said something to amuse her, for Lila let out a laugh. The soft, melodic sound carried in the quiet of the morning and Callum felt a surge of jealousy. He muttered an oath when Scorpius bent his head down to kiss Lila's hand.
He approached them, noting that Lila had her hair pinned up and her face was freshly scrubbed. She smiled shyly at Callum, but he had his eyes fixed on their visitor.
The centaur was younger than Soren, so obviously he was anxious for a mate. And very inexperienced with women. How convenient that Scorpius came upon Lila. Callum wondered if the colt had even had his first woman yet, though he didn't want Lila to find out.
"Callum, good morn. I was just making Lila feel welcome to our camp." Scorpius said casually. He was as lean as Callum was muscular and instinctively, the younger centaur took a step back from the elder's powerful presence.
"Go inside, Lila."
She blinked up at him, then sensed that it was better not to argue. For now. She did as he said.
Callum sent the colt a hard look before following her in.
"Did I do something wrong?" His entrance brought in a draft of cold air and she hugged herself as she went to stand closer to the fire.
"Keep away from Scorpius."
"Why? He seems very nice."
"He could hurt you."
Callum said nothing. Instead, he went to the cupboard and brought out a loaf of bread and then started cutting up some fruit. When he was done, he offered her a plate.
"It's not much." He murmured, suddenly feeling conscious of what he could offer. The deer meat he would cook for tonight in a basic stew. And his knowledge in cooking only extended so far. Katerina had often voiced her yearnings for jellies and shop-bought chocolates, things he'd been unable to provide.
"Thank you." Lila ate every bite on her plate and smiled when he offered seconds. She realized now she hadn't eaten in two days and the food, though simple was as delicious as a grand feast to her. After her stomach was full, she sat back. "So you are not mated to anyone?"
"Scorpius asked me if I was your mate and at first I did not understand. He said centaurs mate for life and do not take a mistress...and their brides must be maidens." Lila blushed. "He seemed very curious in whether I was a maiden or not."
Callum frowned and said dryly, "Scorpius did not waste time."
"He explained that centaurs usually don't bring women here as merely guests, only as their mates." Lila said, watching for Callum's reaction. He remained quiet. "I didn't mean that you and I should...it's just...well, thank you for bringing me here. Henry wouldn't think of finding me in a centaur camp."
"Stay as long as you need to." He stood up and hesitated. "I am needed at the forge."
"You're a blacksmith?" She asked.
"I am." He said proudly, but rather defensively. Then he frowned at his own curtness and looked away. "You may stay here or you may visit with my brothers, Soren or Thayer and his mate, Rose. Just look for the longhouses that bear the same symbols as mine. If you get hungry again, there is food stored in the room through there." He pointed to a tapestry covered doorway at the side of the longhouse, which she missed earlier. She nodded.
"And if Scorpius returns, send him away."
Rose lay in bed that night close to her mate. Her hands covered his as he felt for the kick of their child in her womb. Thayer waited patiently and when he felt the tiny kick, he smiled in awe and wonder.
"He is impatient to meet you." Rose said, returning his smile. Thayer chuckled when he felt another kick.
"Perhaps it is a girl." He said, his eyes on her belly. "I wish it to be a girl."
"But I thought you said women have not given birth to one in a long time."
"Do you not believe in miracles?"
She thought for a moment. "Would it be a filly then? Or a female like me?"
Thayer met her eyes. "That I cannot answer. Many centuries before women stopped giving birth to females, fillies were brought into the world in abundance. Yet their numbers dwindled slowly, some say because where they lived, they could not find mates. For a long period of time, centaurs then brought human females into the world."
"Well, I hardly think I would be an exception and bring forth the first female -- centaur or human -- into the world. I think it is a colt."
Challenge flashed in Thayer's eyes and he lowered his head to hers, brushing his lips over hers enticingly. "Shall we make a wager, then, my Rose? You seem persuaded that our child is a male and I am in the mind that you will birth a girl."
She felt her full breasts tingle with excitement as his hand moved from her large belly to cup one, rubbing the palm of his hand over her nipple. Since she'd grown so big with child, he hadn't made love to her properly and she yearned for him to fill her. Instead, they had to be satisfied with oral ministrations.
"What will be the prize if I win?" She asked breathlessly. He whispered something wicked into her ear.
"And if you are the champion?"
His eyes darkened. "The very same thing."
She kissed him then. His other hand parted the hairs that protected her sex. With his fingers, he caressed her until she shook with need, plunging into her heat with agonizing slowness.
"Make love to me properly, Thayer." She urged. "We can do so on the bed."
"No," He answered, his voice rough with need. "I'll only hurt you."
"I need you!" She moaned when his fingers delved deeper in her.
"Soon," He promised. "When you have healed from the birthing."
He captured her cry of release with his mouth. He never tired of her passion. Rose lay panting against him, her cheeks flushed and her eyes glazed with desire.
"Until then, I must make sure the mother of my daughter is very well taken care of." He whispered against her ear.
Now it was her turn to cast her attention on his need. With her hand on his cock, she began the same slow caresses on him as he'd done to her.
"Nay. I must make sure our son's father is strong enough to deliver him!"