Akira Branishsmall

This is a scene from the second book in my “The Sound of the Stones” series. The writing is raw and is subject to change. Illustration done by me in Adobe Photoshop CS5, mixed media:

Branish aimed for the target for the hundredth time. He drew back, brows furrowed, and took a breath. He let it out and held steady. The spear hit the center of the dirt mound in his minds eye. He released the spear in one fluid motion. It had a nice spiral and arch; hope bloomed in his chest. It hit just to the left of the mound. He let out a heavy sigh, rubbed a hand over his face and reached for another spear.

“You’re pulling your elbow when you release,” Akira said from behind him.

He turned to find her sitting on a rock. He hadn’t heard her come up, and wondered how long she had been there. Heat crept up his neck and he turned his face toward the dirt mound to keep her from noticing.

“Am I?” He scratched the back of his neck and fiddled with the spear in his hand.

“Show me your under hand hold.” She hopped off the rock and came toward him. Her hair was messy, and cheeks tinged pink from the sparring and teaching she must have come from. Branish lifted the spear as he had before. He took a breath, let it out and pulled back to release. Akira caught his forearm in a surprisingly firm grip, halting his release.

“Here.” She slapped his elbow and pushed it to the left. She adjusted his front foot with three solid taps from her own tiny foot. She was standing close…so close he could smell a hint of grass and sweat. He kept his eyes on the dirt mound target, and clenched his jaw. She nodded her head and stepped back. “Now.” She pointed her chin down range toward his target. He could still feel a gentle warmth lingering on his arm where she had touched him. He focused there. He took a breath, let it out, and released. It landed dead center, with a satisfactory thud. The butt of the spear swung to and fro from the force of the throw, as if wagging its tail in approval.

Branish looked at Akira; a crooked grin played on his lips. She matched the grin and laughed, her eyes creasing into half moons.

“I have been trying to do that all day.” His grin lingered. He shook his head and cast an awed glance at the spear, as if seeing it for the first time.

“I know,” Akira said softly.

Branish lifted a brow and met her eyes. She smiled.

“You know?” His voice came out harsher than he had intended.

Akira lifted an easy shoulder, and brushed a blond strand from her face.

“Why didn’t you say something sooner?” He was surprised that his voice still sounded harsh. He wanted to take the words back, but they hung in the air between them like pulsing heat.

Her smile faltered. Branish caught himself in a scowl and quickly rearranged his face into what he hoped was a softer look. She blinked and her smile returned.

“I wanted to see how persistent you were.” She raised a delicate brow and put her hand on her hips.

Heat crept up his face, and he cleared his throat. “And?” he asked softly.

She laughed and her eyes made half moons again. “Oh, you’re persistent all right.” She pulled her hands behind her back, rocking back and forth on her heals playfully.

Branish smiled at her and shook his head. He chuckled and went to gather the spears from the target. He threw the stack of spears over his shoulder and carried them back, handing her half of them. She raised a brow, but he was already lifting the spear into position. It sailed down range hitting center, its butt wagging happily. He folded his arms over his chest and looked at Akira with a brow raised in challenge. She smirked, picked up a spear, and threw it down range. Her spear hit Branish’s in tight formation, and both spear butts wiggled, clapping together as if celebrating. She folded her arms over her chest and lifted a brow, mimicking him. He barked a laugh, and grabbed for another spear. They took turns throwing, one after another, until all of the spears formed a tight clump. Akira nodded appreciatively at the cluster of spears. She looked at Branish and narrowed her eyes.

“Now, you will learn how to hit a moving target,” She said, her smile growing wider.

“Oh?” Branish raised both brows.

“Let’s go hunt.” She grabbed one of the spears, and started off toward the crest of the hill. She looked back over her shoulder, and motioned with her chin for him to follow. He picked up a spear and followed, a stupid grin fixed to his face.