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.I don't want to leave you, Erik.But I don't have any choice.Can't you understand that?""I'm trying.” His hand reached out to brush away her tears.“Fordamme! You're on fire!” He felt her forehead.“I had no idea you were so ill.I'll get you some water.""No, Erik.Don't leave.I'm so cold.” Her arms reached out to him.“Just hold me."Quickly, he slipped out of his clothes and crawled into bed.With a soft shuddering sigh, Leigh nestled against him, drawing the heat from his skin like a thirsty animal lapping fresh spring water.Moments later, safe in his loving arms, she sank into a deep dreamless sleep.Chapter 18Through a layer of white cottony fog, Leigh heard Erik's voice.She struggled to open her eyes and focus on him.Gradually, the mist cleared and she saw him staring down at her, his blue eyes concerned and his hands clutching hers tightly.She wanted to reassure him that she was okay, but couldn't summon the energy to speak."I'm leaving for the village now, Kayleigh.Do you understand?"His voice came through clearly.She felt a sudden panic, but still couldn't find her voice to beg him to stay.His hand tightened upon hers for a moment, and his face drew away.A moment later, the fog closed around her again, drawing her back into the mists of unconsciousness.* * * *They were out in the woods.Leigh wore only her light satin nightgown from Saks.She shivered in the frigid air.The icy wind whipped around them as the snow fell in huge, quarter-sized flakes, landing with noisy, wet plops on the covered ground."Erik, I'm so cold!” Leigh reached out to him.“Please, can't you give me something to wear?"He stood before her, dressed in bulky ski wear, mirrored goggles covering his eyes.He smiled, his teeth white and straight against the golden tan of his face."Of course.” He tossed her the blue fox jacket he'd bought in Oslo.She slipped into it, but it did nothing to protect her from the cold."Now, I must go.” Erik turned on his skis and moved away.“There's no use in trying to follow me.You could never keep up without skis.And if you don't know this forest, you could walk in circles for months before finding your way out.” Then he laughed.“But no need to worry.The wolves will find you long before that.""Erik!” she screamed at his retreating back.“Don't leave me here!"But he kept going.Leigh sank to the snow-covered ground in tears.Just when she'd given up hope, Erik turned and skied back to her.He pulled her to her feet, his face expressionless."I knew you couldn't leave me here,” she sobbed."You were right,” he said quietly.“I couldn't do that to you.Come.""Are we going back to the cabin?""Not yet.” He smiled.“I want you to see something very beautiful."They stood on the cliff overlooking Reiardsfossen.The view was as magnificent as before, but Leigh didn't want to be there.She was cold.She wanted to return to the cabin."Let's go back, Erik,” she pleaded.“I'm freezing.""Give me your ring.” He held out his hand as he gazed out over the waterfall.“The one I gave you in Ose the other night."She twisted it off and dropped it into his outstretched palm."You see, the other way was too slow.” He hurled the ring into the abyss.“Please try and understand I can't let you go.” He grabbed her shoulders and his mouth clamped down on hers, his tongue searching.As always, she responded to his electric kiss, her mouth becoming soft and pliant under his.But then, she realized something was wrong.The pressure of his body was forcing her backward.Her footing became unstable.Erik ripped himself away from her and pushed her hard.The blood drained from her face as she felt the ground crumble beneath her feet.Desperately, she lunged at him, but it was too late.Her clawing hands grasped at the brittle rock at the cliff edge and for a moment, she hung there suspended in a void between life and death, her frantic eyes staring in shock at Erik's impassive face.Suddenly the rock gave way beneath her desperate fingers."Eeerrriiikkk!” she screamed, hurtling toward the violent cauldron of water below.* * * *"Erik!” Leigh bolted up and found herself in the sofa bed at the cottage.Tears streamed down her flushed face as her eyes darted wildly around the empty room.She couldn't stop shivering.When she saw the dark fireplace, she realized why.Where was Erik? Then she remembered the nightmare.It had been so real, so frightening.Where had he gone and why was the fire out?Her arm felt as if it were weighted with iron bracelets as she threw back the covers.She managed to drag herself up, and for a moment, she sat on the edge of the bed, summoning the strength to stand.There was something different in the room.Her eyes fastened on the snow-caked window where a feeble sun cast a soft glow through the gloom.The blizzard had finally blown itself out.Her brow furrowed as she tried to remember what Erik had said before he'd left.It was so vague in her mind.Something about going for help?Trembling, she stood up and moved like an old woman toward the fireplace.She breathed a sigh of relief when she saw a few burning embers in the bottom of the grate [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]