But his bunkmate hadn’t eaten anything. She’d tried, but the concerned expression on her face indicated to him that she might have been too worried to finish her food. He didn’t know what troubled her…unless it was coming to terms with all that he’d shared with her, not to mention his falling through a magical portal.
Emma Swan was the last person he’d want to upset. Perhaps he should venture out on his own and solve his problems without her, but…
But…she was his true love. Or was going to be. He was sure of it. And he liked her. There was something about her that made him feel as if he’d known her forever. Understood her. He drew in a breath and let it out slowly, trying to determine what he ought to do. First order, he needed to calm her worries. “Emma?”
She glanced at him but didn’t stop her trek.
“Do you,” he cleared his throat, what he needed to say difficult, “would you like me to go?”
That stopped her in her tracks, and her eyes widened. “What? Why? You can’t go.”
He furrowed his brow and rubbed his tongue over his bottom lip, thinking. “My presence seems to have disturbed you, and I don’t want to cause you any trouble.”
She ran her fingers through her hair, then pushed it behind her ears. “I…I’m sorry. I guess I look like I’m losing it. It’s just…” She looked at him, her gaze wavering with uncertainty.
He didn’t dare move. He didn’t want to frighten her, because something surely bothered her. “Yes?” he prodded, laying his arm along the back of the sofa.
As she chewed on her lip, he longed to make her stop. She shouldn’t give her beautiful mouth such abuse, but he kept his thought to himself and tried to concentrate on whatever alarmed her.
She came around the table slowly, trepidation marking her steps. When she sat down in the chair, she rubbed her palms over her thighs. “Something happened to me a few months ago, something…weird.”
He sat forward, concerned. The need to protect her shot through him like a cannon blast, and he pressed his elbows into his knees to keep himself from shoving to his feet and making demands for the whereabouts of the blackguard who dared harm her. “Weird?” he ground out.
“One of my foster mothers, she…she wanted to adopt me.” She blinked a couple times, clearing tears from her eyes.
Killian gritted his teeth, wishing he could banish whatever pain she carried.
“I was so happy, because…because someone finally wanted me, but then…” She lowered her lashes, shame coloring her cheeks.
“Then?” It was all he could do not to hunt down this woman who hurt the angel before him.
“Then, I don’t know. I was playing this game at a carnival.” She looked at him, confusion in her eyes, and she made a grabbing gesture with her hands. “The kind that has the claw that you move and it latches on to some kind of prize, like a stuffed animal or something.”
He had no idea what she was talking about, but he didn’t say anything, sensing he shouldn’t interrupt.
“And when I concentrated really hard, these sparks went off, and I felt…” She lifted her hand, turning it over, considering her palm. “I felt something powerful flow through me. It came out of my fingers.”
His thoughts froze.
Emma pushed to her feet and started pacing again. “Then we had this talk about Harry Potter, and I told her I wished I had magic like him, and then she told me I did, and shoved me in front of an oncoming car.” She scrubbed at her cheeks, her fingers trembling. “She held me there while that vehicle raced toward me and told me to use my power and stop the car.”
When she looked at him, tears hovered in her gorgeous eyes. “I ran away. She scared the hell out of me. But now—” She broke off.
After a few moments of silence, he asked, his voice gruff, “Now?”
She shook her head, as if she didn’t want to face the truth, and dashed out of the cabin.
He surged to his feet and went after her, his chest tightening in worry. But he didn’t have to go far as she’d stopped next to a tree, leaning against it, her forehead pressed to her wrist.
Wanting to be careful with her, he paused. Her golden locks shone in the sunlight as they cascaded down her back. He reached out a hand, but lowered his arm, unsure if she would welcome any comfort from him. “Emma?” he called, keeping his tone soft.
She sniffed and lifted her head. Slowly she turned to face him.
The evidence of her sorrow glistened on her cheeks, and his gut tensed. His presence had caused her pain. He should go. But he couldn’t make his feet obey his mind.
“You tell me magic is real,” she murmured, her voice shaky, “and I believe you. Even if I hadn’t seen you come through that portal, I would’ve believed you.” She shook her head. “I’m not sure why that is, but I can’t think about that right now. I’m trying to wrap my mind around the fact that Ingrid might have been right.” She splayed a hand across her chest. “I might be able to make magic. Me.”
Killian took in a slow breath, wondering what in the hell he should say to her. If what she said was true then she might be able to get him home without trouble at all, but that was the least of his cares. Besides the fact that the idea of leaving her made it feel like a knife stabbed him in ten different places, he wasn’t about to abandon her until whatever bothered her had been put to rest.
A fresh bout of tears spilled over her face. “It can’t be true,” she rasped.
Silence rose between them until she asked, “Can it?”
His gut clenched at the helplessness in her tone, and he took a cautious step toward her. Slowly he reached out and wiped away the wetness on her cheeks with his thumbs.
She drew in a deep breath and her mouth opened but she said nothing. She didn’t stop him.
Time went still as he touched her. He gazed deep into her eyes, falling and not caring that he was. Awe washed over him and through him. If he could be this close to her for forever, he would thank his lucky stars. Or his fairy godmother. If he had one, but he doubted it. Without removing his hands from her, he said, “I don’t know if it’s true, but let’s not worry about that now. You and I have had quite the day, and I think we ought to sit down on that comfortable couch and get to know each other.”
He hoped like hell she agreed. He wanted to learn everything about her. He wanted to bare his soul to her, and maybe, if she liked him…well…
His heart pounded like a racing horse. Slow down, Killian.
With shaking fingers, she reached up and circled his left wrist. She didn’t pull him away. Instead, she held him to her, her eyes wide, her lips parted. “Okay,” she rasped.
She’d agreed. Joy shot through him, and he stepped away just a bit, his fingers sliding from her skin, and hers from his wrist. He offered his hand to her.
She took it, glancing between his face and their joined palms, still with the look of wonder in her beautiful eyes.
He tugged, and she allowed him to lead her back inside.