She turned her head to one side, and Beck's face appeared.
"There you are." A smile formed on his chapped lips.
All of a sudden her entire body ached as a moan escaped from her lips. She slowly grew aware that she felt warm.
She was lying in bedding of some kind.
Her blue eyes moved from his unshaven face to what surrounded them. It was too dark to make anything out, but she was inside a cave. Smells of rock and earth filled her nostrils.
"Wh -- where are we?" she croaked.
"Someplace safe," Beck answered softly.
" 'Kay." She slowly nodded, accepting the answer. "How long h - have I been asleep?"
"Um, over two days."
Her eyes sprung open, wide. "Two days?"
"You were in a pretty bad shape, peaches," his voice crooned. "Your body needed the rest."
He wasn't kidding. Her body felt battered, especially her head and shoulders.
"You had a nasty head injury," he continued as one of his hands brushed the side of her head. "I thought for sure you were dying on me."
"How come I'm still alive then?"
"They saved you. Us."
Her blue eyes darkened. "Who's 'they'?"
"I'm not really sure." Beck's eyes wandered away from her face. "They look like us. They, ah, live in the trees." He turned back to her. "I - I can't explain it."
Tess shook her head. "You're not making any sense, Beck."
He let out a huff. "Like I said, I can't explain it." And stood up. "You'll meet them soon."
"Where are you going?"
"To bed." His face now looked haggard. "I haven't slept much in days." He disappeared into the darkness.
Some time later, Tess opened her eyes. Light filled the area; yellow streaks spread over her body.
Her aching body.
She groaned as she moved her arms, freeing them from the feather-weight pale blue covers. Her eyes danced around. The cave was open, but small. It could barely fit a child.
How on earth did Beck fit in here?
Slowly, she sat up. Everything wavered. "O-ooh ..." Her hands clasped her head in hope to stop the spinning.
Once it did, she looked around again. The bedding was nothing more than branches and twigs covered with a "mattress" stuffed with grass. As she shifted where she sat, the "mattress" felt like a stiff cushion. Shouldn't it be prickly?
She glanced towards the light. Soft, golden rays filtered into the cave from outside. The air smelled sweet.
Where the heck was she?
She swung her legs out. She wore a long nightgown. White as snow. Soft like silk, and as light as a quill. Her golden brown hair draped over her shoulders.
Where were her clothes?
She peered around the cave. They were no signs of them.
"Are you looking for these?" A small voice came out of nowhere.
Startled, Tess glanced all around. "Who's there?"
A petite figure moved into the light from a corner. It looked like a girl, or was she actually a woman? Her hair black as a raven; eyes like emeralds. Her clothes were in the form of tan trousers and a long-sleeved velvety-looking turtleneck sweater. Her skin creamy and without blemish.
Tess shook her head slightly and looked at the girl's hands.
"Yes," she whispered as she took them from the girl's outstretched hands. "Thanks."
"You are very welcome," the girl replied.
Tess studied her clothes. Fresh and clean. No sign of any damage of any kind.
"Who are you?" Her voice shook slightly.
She looked over at the girl once again. "Mirial. Pretty name."
"I like yours as well."
Okay, this was starting to get a bit too strange for her.
"Where am I?"
"Some place that is safe," was all Mirial said.
"But where is that?"
"If you get dressed, I will take you to the Elders."
"Sure." Tess let out a sigh as Mirial walked away.