Tooken pushed the boulder from the entrance to the elf kingdom. He’d be damned if he would marry Kalloway. It’s not that she wasn’t beautiful enough, or even that she wasn’t his type. In fact, she was quite beautiful and very much his type. At his father’s request, he had spent several months getting to know her. She was very sweet, and would make a wonderful princess, but he did not love her. The argument with his father had not been pretty. Arguments between Elven royalty seldom are. Tooken had demanded a chance to find love. He was not yet 200 years old, and he thought he had several more years.
The sun was just beginning to rise over the lake that bordered Elven land. It was a glorious sight to behold. Tooken admired his six feet of Elven manliness in the clear water. His wavy chestnut locks curled around his pointed ears and stopped short at the base of his neck in the back, and fell forward just above his eyebrows in the front. He brushed them away with a flick of his hand. His cool green eyes surveyed the scenery as he considered the direction in which he should go. Whichever way he went, he had to decide quickly. His father would soon discover his disappearance and send out the goon squad in search of him.
Neysa took her time crossing the brook. The last thing she needed was to slip on one of the shiny stones and loose her footing. Bracken would catch up with her for certain if she did not keep moving. She had no interest in him, and she was sure she never would. Though it was considered proper for a herd stallion to have a number of wives, she wanted someone all her own. No, the man for her was of some other race, she decided. He was of a race where one male and one female made a marriage.
She shifted quickly into human form. Though the glowing jewel on her forehead would give her away to another unicorn, it would make it easier to hide in a smaller body. Her step was lively despite her fear. She did not know this forest, and she had never been so far from home. Convinced she would find a husband beyond the horizon and not be forced to become Bracken’s fourth mare, she skipped along the edge of the trees. She admired the beauty of the place. It was like a dream.
Tooken headed west, following the rising sun. Perhaps his one true love was out there somewhere, at this very moment, skipping along the horizon. He could almost see her now. He laughed at himself and shook his head.
“Silly boyhood fantasies,” he said aloud, his voice startling some birds in a nearby tree. He must be more careful, he decided. The goon squad could have seen those birds and picked up his location in a matter of minutes. So far, there had been no sign of them.
Neysa headed east, away from the sun. Bracken would have no idea where she’d gone. He’d warned of the Elven country in the east that took unicorns as prisoners and used them as workhorses. Neysa had laughed him off. No creature would use a unicorn as a workhorse. Unicorns were revered and respected as symbols of purity and innocence. Still, there was very little innocence in what she was doing.
It was late afternoon by the time she decided to stop for a rest. At home, she would have been napping for hours. But she was not at home today, and she wasn’t sure if she would ever be there again. She could see a grassy plain not far away. The grass looked to be as tall as she was. It would be a perfect place to hide and nap. Perhaps she would stay there the rest of the day, and do her traveling by night.
Birds flying out of a tree startled her as she began to cross the plain. She turned around, walking backward for a while, scanning the tree line. She was only a few yards into the prairie when she stumbled over something and fell backward onto her rump.
“Blast these human feet!” she swore as she tried to gather herself. As she sat up, she found herself looking into a pair of cool green eyes.
Tooken could not believe his fortune! There, having fallen right over him, was the most beautiful creature he’d ever seen. Her white-gold hair blew in the slight breeze, framing a heart-shaped face. A pair of eyes bluer than the noonday sky peered back at him. He mustered his courage. “My apologies, my lady,” he said gently, reaching for her hand.
Much to his delight, and her own, she allowed him to hoist her to her feet. “What are you doing lying around in a grassy prairie?” she demanded, her blue eyes firing in anger.
“Taking a nap, my lady,” he replied sheepishly. “My name is Tooken, prince of Elves.”
Neysa stepped back in surprise. An elf! A real live elf! “You’ll not take me prisoner!” she cried, and turned to run.
Tooken grabbed her hand and held fast. “Here now, what’s this about? The proper response to an introduction is to offer one yourself, not scream and run away.”
She turned slightly and looked again into the cool green eyes. They did not look at all dangerous. It suddenly occurred to her that Bracken’s warnings were a myth. “Neysa,” she said softly. “I am from Unicorn Valley.”
Tooken laughed. “My lady, only unicorns come from Unicorn Valley.”
His laughter fueled her fire again. “I am a unicorn, Mr. – Mr. –” In her fluster, she had forgotten his name.
“Tooken, my lady. Prince of Elves.” He smiled warmly and offered her a seat next to him in the tall grass. She took it. “Tell me, how is it that you claim to be a unicorn, and yet you appear here in front of me as a human girl.”
“Woman, thank you,” Neysa snipped. “I can shift into human form. Some unicorns can shift into birds, or lambs, or what have you. I shift into human. We all have our little quirks.”
She was incredible. Tooken had never met a unicorn personally. He’d never cared to, really. Perhaps he’d seen one and not even known it. “Those birds in the tree just a bit ago, could they have been unicorns?”
Neysa froze. She hadn’t thought about that. “I suppose they could have been,” she said, rising to her feet. “I’m sorry, I really must be moving on.”
Tooken stood with her and grabbed her hand again. “But you’ve only just got here.” He replied. “I’d like to talk to you a while.”
She shook her lovely head. “I am sorry, but if those birds were in fact unicorns, then Bracken will find out where I am. I must go.” She turned and began to run across the prairie.
She’s in trouble. Tooken’s mind raced as he caught up with her. “Who is Bracken?”
“The herd stallion,” she replied. “He wants me for his fourth mare. I want a husband I don’t have to share with anyone. I ran away. If he finds me, not only will I be forced to marry him, but he will be quite cruel to me.”
“How could anyone be cruel to such a beautiful creature?”
His question slowed her pace. She did not recognize the feelings his presence evoked in her. She was not sure whether she liked them. “I’m sorry, I really am, but I simply do not have time to make friends.”
“I’ll go with you,” he said quickly. “I’m on the run myself.”
“Who would the Elven Prince need to run from?” she thought aloud.
Tooken laughed. “Why, the Elven King, of course.”
Neysa considered his answer. “But that would be your father.”
“Indeed, it would. The very same father who would force me to marry a girl I do not love rather than allow me to venture outside the elven kingdom in search of my own bride.” He pulled at her hand. “Could we stop a minute, my lady?” He bent over and placed his hands on his knees as he sucked in a breath. “The pace is killing me.”
Neysa surveyed the distance they had traveled in the few moments they’d been talking. Gone was the prairie, and they had run well into the next forest. The trees here were smaller than on the other side of the grassy plain, and not nearly as pretty. “What land is this?” she asked.
Tooken spun slowly on one boot-covered heel. “Minotaur land,” he mused. “Perhaps we should back out to the prairie and take another route. If we are on minotaur land, we are in danger of the bounty hunter Sodor finding us.”
“Why should he care to find us?” Neysa wondered.
Gods, she was adorable. Na´ve, but adorable. “I’m certain, by now my father has summoned him. All magical leaders know of him. He is the one they call when they wish to find someone.”
“Bracken may summon him as well, then.” Neysa realized. “We’ve got to get out of sight for a few days, until they give us up for dead.”
“I have an idea. I have a troll friend who owes me a favor.”
“A troll?” Neysa disliked trolls. Their caves were dark and dirty. She’d been captured once as a foal by a troll selling wares in Unicorn Valley. Bracken had rescued her and brought her home to her mother. He felt she owed him her loyalty. Maybe she did, a little. “You want me to live in a troll cave?”
Tooken grinned. “It’s only for a few days. What have you got to lose?”
She looked at him. His handsome face was irresistible. His cool green eyes comforted her in a way she could not place. What did she have to lose? Her heart.
The cave was dark and cold, but at least it was safe. There was a pool of water at one end where they could wash, with a waterfall where they could get fresh water. Torches lined the tunnel that led to it. Tooken thanked his friend and pulled a boulder across the entrance.
“The trolls have left us enough food for several days,” he told Neysa. She nodded, but her face was sad. “Are you alright?”
“Yes.” She peered down the tunnel toward the pool. “I guess I didn’t think it through when I decided to run away. Bracken really isn’t all that bad. Perhaps if I beg forgiveness…” she trailed off.
Tooken moved close to her. Tentatively, he wrapped one arm around her. She shuddered, but did not pull away. “But then you’d never have a chance to be happy.”
She looked at him and laughed ruefully. “What is happy? I don’t believe I have ever truly felt that way.”
He inhaled deeply. She might reject him. Then again, she may not. “Allow me, my lady, to attempt to show you.” He leaned toward her, his mouth meeting hers softly, gauging her reaction. When she did not pull away, he increased the pressure against her lips until her mouth opened. He dipped his tongue gently past her lips and ran it softly over hers.
Neysa could not believe how good the kiss felt. It was warm and soft, and it caused a heat deep within her she did not recognize. Suddenly fearful, she pulled back. “I don’t know – what I mean is – oh,” she turned away. “Tooken, we do not really know one another. What would happen if we regret this tomorrow?”
“Do you believe in love at first sight, my lady?” he asked, his voice an octave lower, husky in his desire. “Elves do. Further, I believe that I loved you from the moment I set eyes upon you.”
She looked at him, uncertain. Love. The word felt right. Her stomach tumbled with nerves. “Perhaps I felt the same for you. But how –” Her question was cut off with the pressure of his lips on hers. A low moan rumbled from somewhere inside her.
His lips traced the line of her jaw down to the hollow of her neck. “You are so beautiful, my lady,” he murmured against her silky skin. “Would you allow me to touch you?”
She nodded hesitantly. With her consent, he slowly unwrapped the satin gown she wore. When it lay in a puddle at her feet, he pulled her against his body. The wool of his shirt tickled the delicate skin of her breasts, but the warmth of his strong arms around her told her not to pull away. He nestled his lips into the hollow of her neck and licked and kissed there as he caressed her back. The heat began to build from somewhere deep within her.
His hands moved lower, tracing gentle circles across her buttocks. He dipped his head, his lips and tongue leaving a trail of wet fire from her neck to her voluptuous bosom. He pulled one nipple into his mouth as he coaxed her down to the floor of the cave. The smooth rock was cold beneath her, but she was beyond caring beneath his hot touch.
His hands outlined her hips as he moved them around to her belly. He moved to the other nipple, licking and sucking it until it, like its twin, was stiff and peaked. She moaned softly as his head dipped lower, trailing hot kisses down her abdomen. He stopped between her hips and gently parted her legs.
Startled, she sat up, uncertain of what to do. She had never been made love to, and she wondered at the feelings he was creating in her. Would she stay in this form once it was over? His lips touched that secret part of her, and her questions died away. She lay back and her legs fell open on their own.
He sucked tenderly on the hard bud between her soft feminine lips. When her surprised gasps gave way to moans of pleasure, he inserted a finger into her. Her honeyed tunnel was hot and tight, and he knew she’d never experienced the touch of a man. Dare he really be her first?
His erection strained against his tight wool pants. He did not have a choice now. He had begun this, and now he must have satisfaction. He shrugged out of the offending trousers and stretched out beside her. He pulled his wool shirt over his head and bunched it neatly beneath hers before guiding her curious hand toward his shaft.
She touched him gingerly, her fingers adjusting around the protrusion. “What – do you intend to do with that?” she asked breathlessly as he returned to pressing one finger into her wet heat.
He smiled. “The same thing I am currently doing with my hand.”
Neysa smiled back. If it felt half as good, she would surely be in ecstasy. “Alright,” she whispered.
Tooken gauged her readiness by the moisture on his hand. “Neysa, you’ve never done this before,” he breathed into her ear as he got onto his knees. “It may hurt at first.”
Her blue eyes widened. “Hurt? Why should it hurt?”
He sighed. “I don’t know for sure that it will. I’ve never made love to a unicorn. I have, I’ll admit, made love to a number of elven maids who have told me it hurt at first.”
His hand never moved, never wavered in its caress of her love tunnel. She was beyond caring whether it may or may not hurt. She wanted that feeling. She was desperate, though she wasn’t sure for what. She nodded silently and closed her eyes.
Tooken positioned himself between her thighs and lifted her hips up slightly. He pressed the tip of his manhood carefully into her opening. Neysa gasped, then bucked her hips. He pushed in further, an inch at a time, until he heard her moan. “My lady, are you alright?” he asked, his voice barely a whisper.
Neysa could not be sure whether she was alright. The pressure of his shaft inside her felt like fire as it stretched her untouched recess. She inhaled sharply and let the breath out slowly. “I am,” she replied. “Please, don’t stop.”
Tooken had never been so uncertain about the act of love-making in his life. He had taken the maidenhood of many a chambermaid and not thought twice. Neysa was different. His heart ached at the thought of causing her pain. “I will be as gentle as I can, my love.”
Love. There was that word again. She felt herself expanding, filling up with the size of him. It burned and stung in the most sensitive part of her, yet she could not compel herself to ask him to stop. Love. She repeated the word in her head. Love. Love. Love. Love at first sight.
Tooken began to back his considerable length out of her and she opened her eyes in wonder. When he pushed in again, a wave of heat washed over her. “Do that again,” she whispered. Tooken grinned, happy to oblige. He pumped in and out with torturous slow motion, picking up speed gradually. “Oh,” Neysa moaned, “oh, faster, please.”
“I shall try, my lady,” he said breathlessly, “but you are much tighter than those I have done this with before.” Neysa squeezed her feminine muscles around him in delight. “God in heaven, do not make it tighter!” he groaned.
Neysa ignored him. She wrapped her legs tightly around his waist and bucked her hips up to meet his passionate thrusts. She was beginning to understand how it was done, and able to create her own pleasure against him. His breathing was labored as he once again tucked his face into the hollow of her neck. She was no longer shy as she encircled his muscled shoulders with her slender arms and held him close. He moaned in increasing volume as he thrust into her wet tightness.
Neysa felt the first stirrings deep within her. She could not tell what it was, but it felt amazing, and she wanted more. She pressed her legs firmly against Tooken’s buttocks, urging him on. It began as a quiver, then grew to a spasm, then erupted as powerfully as a volcano. She threw her head back. Her moans echoed in the cave as her muscles seized around his throbbing hardness. The feeling came in waves, washing over her as clearly as waves on the distant shore. She had once been there. The surges moving through her body were more than she’d ever dreamed of.
Her orgasm affected him strangely. Tooken had never cared one way or another whether his partner climaxed. This time, it made him want to do it again. He reached down and lifted her hips higher, driving himself in deeper. She moaned and squealed as he plunged through the rippling muscles of her peak. He pulled her delicate frame against him forcefully.
The waves within her grew bigger with each thrust he made. Neysa was beside herself, lost in a world of intense pleasure. She cried out as another volcano erupted within her, saturating his shaft and the stone beneath her with its hot fire. She gripped his shoulders, her nails unintentionally digging in.
At last, Tooken roared, partly from the pain of her nails, and partly from the final thrust that buried him to the hilt. He held her against him, emptying himself as deeply within her as he could. He collapsed on top of her, raising one hand to brush the damp white-gold hair away from her heart-shaped face.
“My lord prince,” she whispered, “I believe I love you.”
“My lady Neysa, I will never make love to another woman as long as you’re alive.” He rolled to her side and collected her in his arms. He pulled her satin gown over them like a blanket. They drifted off to sleep together.
“My lord Tooken!” A gruff voice awoke Neysa from a wonderful dream. Tooken was standing at the entrance to the cave conversing with his troll friend. She was dressed in her gown. He had probably dressed her to avoid her embarrassment should they have company. Neysa shielded her eyes from the brightness that shown in from beyond the boulder. Tooken was in nothing but his wool breeches.
The muscles in his arms and back rippled as he moved he gestured while talking. Neysa desperately wanted to sidle up behind him and run her hands over those muscles, down his smooth stomach. Perhaps she’d even like to relieve him of those breeches for a repeat session of the evening before. She considered the matter.
He returned to her side once the boulder had been replaced. “How are you feeling this morning, my lady?” His voice was like warm honey to her ear. Was it possible she could be so happy from one night?
“Tooken, I have never felt this way before,” she said. “I may be happy for the first time in my life.”
He had a small wool satchel in his hand. “Perhaps I can see to it that you are never anything but for the rest of it.” He fished inside the satchel and pulled something from it. “Neysa, I know we have known one another but a day. Still, I cannot help but feel what I feel for you. I would give all that I own to be the man who can put that lovely smile upon your beautiful face forever.” He slid a gold ring carved with intricate markings onto her hands. “Please let me.”
“Oh, Tooken!” She threw her arms around him, tears forming in her blue eyes. “I would love to be your princess!”
“Then you will marry me. We’ll have the wedding tonight, after we return to the Elven kingdom –”
“Tooken,” she cut him off. The tears were rolling down her cheeks now. “I would love to be your princess, but how can I?” She backed away from him and shifted quickly into her unicorn form. “This is what I truly am.”
“Neysa, you are the most breathtaking creature,” he replied. “I love you regardless of what you are.”
“And children?” she asked. “What would our children be?”
Tooken sighed and hung his head. “To tell you the truth, I hadn’t thought that far ahead.”
Neysa shifted back into human form. “Neither of us did.”
“There has to be a way this can work!” he demanded. He took her hand. “I love you.”
She looked up into his cool green eyes. “And I you. But I don’t think we can make a life together.” She turned away from him. “This cave, and what transpired within it, is merely a stolen moment. We have no right to expect it to last.”
“Are you telling me no?” She nodded solemnly. Tooken had never felt such a pain. He had never felt the things he felt for her, and now she was taking them all away. “Neysa, I cannot be without you.”
She turned back and wrapped her arms around his neck, pulling him close to her. “My love, you don’t even know me,” she whispered through her tears. “We know nothing of one another. And besides, where would we live? In my natural form, I am far to big to live in elven dwellings, and you would never be accepted in Unicorn Valley.”
He kissed her tenderly. “There has to be a way,” he said softly, the command in his voice breaking with his heart. She shook her head sadly. He inhaled sharply. “What will you do?”
“Go back to Bracken and the herd. Perhaps he will understand and forgive me.”
“Neysa, please don’t do this.” A single tear rolled down his cheek. “Perhaps the stallion will forgive and accept you, but what shall I do? Marry a woman I don’t love and live in misery all of my existence?”
She stepped back and shifted again into unicorn form. She backed toward the entrance to the cave and pushed the boulder with her rump. “I will always love you,” she said. His ring appeared on his own hand. As he looked at it, she disappeared.
He should have followed her. He should have done something. He didn’t. He made his way slowly back to his kingdom. The next day, his father summoned him to bicker again about his choice of bride. Tooken had no will to quarrel. He nodded along as his father made point after point of the merits of Kalloway. By the next full moon, she was a princess. In his heart, she would never be his wife. He would never feel for her what he felt for Neysa.
Neysa hung her head as she repeated the vows that inducted her into Bracken’s harem. She lay with him that night, allowing him to have his way. If he noticed she was not pure, he said nothing. She was doing what was right. She could never have had a life with Tooken. Of that, she was certain. She could only comfort herself with the memory of that night in the troll cave.