Freeing Luka: Epilogue


One month later

“Keep your eyes closed,” Luka demanded from behind her.

“My eyes are closed, and what does it even matter anyway?” she argued. “You have your enormous hands covering my face. Even if I opened them, I wouldn’t see anything. Remember, we can’t stay…wherever you’re taking me…for too long. We promised to go meet your niece today.”

Alice didn’t know how many more surprises she could handle. Ever since their terrifying attack in the woods, Luka had been repeatedly giving her presents and surprising her with romantic tokens.

“Don’t get me wrong, I love presents, but you’re going overboard. I asked you to stop, remember?” she said while continuing to stumble forward down an uneven path. The sounds of the forest played all around her, and she wondered if he had another picnic planned.

“I remember I specifically tuned out that request.”

Alice huffed. The impossible male had received not one, but three nearly fatal wounds during their attack. He should be the one receiving gifts and surprises, not her.

He whispered into her ear, making her jump. “We’re here. Open up.”

It took her eyes a moment to adjust to the bright light. When they did, she found herself staring into a small copse of flowering trees.

Keeping his voice quiet, he said, “Have I ever told you about the weshuin?” He pointed up to a small orange bird flitting among the blossoms at the top of the tree.

“No.”

“Well, the weshuin spends years and years gathering strong material to build his nest. He starts by finding sticks and small rocks, then builds a tall covered structure.” He pointed to a large, impressive stick house, set atop the juncture of two converging branches.

“Wow, that looks more like a small house than a bird’s nest.” She whispered up to the orange bird, “You’re doing great!”

“Next, he finds soft material to line the inside, and finally he flies all over, finding pretty things to decorate the nest with. Flowers, shiny pebbles, buttons.”

She watched as the small bird swooped to its nest, pale pink flower in beak, and placed it near the entrance.

“Does he ever actually live in it?” She chuckled, leaning her head against Luka’s shoulder.

“Only when he finds a mate.” He peered down at her with a warm smile. “It sometimes takes years, but after he’s done building the nest, he’ll bring the female bird he’s courting here to show her. If she goes to sit inside, then she’s agreed to be his mate.”

Alice sighed. Luka was a hopeless romantic, and she loved it.

“I want to show you something else.”

She was just about to complain that she wasn’t closing her eyes again when he whirled her around by her shoulders. Emotion tightened her throat, and her heart stuttered.

A beautiful, rustic home stood in front of her. The sides of the two-story house were covered in large picture windows and gleamed in the late afternoon sun.

“Do you like it?” Luka asked, his shoulders bunched.

Alice had to choke out her words through the lump in her throat. “I see you learned some tricks from those weshuin.”

His face broke into a grin, and he tugged at her hand, leading her into the house.

Once inside, she only caught glimpses of warm-toned furniture and piles of books. His insistent tug on her wrist forced her to jog through the house and up the stairs.

“Am I allowed to look at the house?” she halfheartedly complained, laughing.

His smile was infectious as he pulled her through a large, comfortable bedroom and onto a…

“A balcony,” she exclaimed, hands flying to her mouth.

The small, raised balcony overlooked the forest, and the two familiar, old armchairs from Luka’s apartment were placed on either side of a deep-green table, set with two cups.

Luka glanced briefly at her, then rushed over to sit in one of the chairs, leaning forward to sweep away the floating bulbs hovering over the cups to keep them warm.

“I asked Jade what coffee was, and I think this might be close.” He motioned for her to sit in the other chair, holding out a steaming glass.

Her lip trembled. She made her way over to Luka, curling up in his lap. “How did I get so lucky?”

A low purr rumbled through his chest, and he brushed his cheek against her hair. “I’m the lucky one.”

Tilting her head, she pressed her mouth to his. Their kiss was slow and sensual and utterly full of love.

“Watch it, female. You want to see the rest of the house before retiring to the bedroom, don’t you?”

“I want to stay right here.” She sighed, taking the cup from his hand.

Reaching forward, he grabbed the second glass. “I hope this helps when you miss your home.”

She took a small sip and choked, then began to laugh.

“It’s terrible,” she squealed.

He took a sip of his own and grimaced.

Replacing their cups on the table, she turned back to him. “It doesn’t matter, though. I can’t miss home, because I am home.” She ran a hand through his hair. “You’re my home. I love you.”

He beamed. “I love you too.”

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