The morning sun rose into the mostly clear sky, casting a rosy glow against the few thin strands of clouds which drifted overhead. Birds fluttered about and chirped happily at one another in the nearby trees. Matthew lay on his back, only aware that he was shirtless by the cool kiss of the morning air on his skin and the soft, wet touch of the dew covered grass against his back. Somewhere on his right, a stream gurgled happily as it meandered past. This was a peaceful place. A beautiful place. He was almost disappointed that he was not alone when Treyp leaned into view.
“Matthew?” The Dryad called to him, her voice laced with concern. “Matthew, are you all right?”
“Treyp?” He said in a clear voice, and nearly started. For some odd reason, he had expected his throat to be sore. Raw. Hoarse. It seemed like it ought to have been. “I'm fine. Where are we?”
The slightest of smiles touched the corner of her mouth, and she looked away. Relief and happiness, unsuppressed, consumed her expression as she let her dark, sparkling eyes wander across the clearing around them. She sighed, and her voice came as a breathy and distant murmur. “Home. That's what this is.”
“This is home?”
“Well, almost,” she admitted. “This clearing isn't far from the trees where my people rest their heads. And it's special to me.”
Pushing herself off of him, she regained her feet and moved away. There was something wistful in her expression. She moved toward the stream, peeling off her white blouse as she walked. Kneeling beside the water, she plunged her hands into it, then brought them to her face. Matthew watched her for a moment, his hazel eye on her bare back, as she brought more water to her shoulders and traced them down her arms. He looked away, checked the treeline, then brought himself to his feet as well.
'This is not the time for it,' the assassin silently reminded himself as he approached her.
Treyp's attention to what she was doing was not interrupted, and she continued gliding her hands over herself as he sank to his knees beside her. For a moment, Matthew was transfixed. The sun, the air, the very setting transformed her. Every inch of her exposed skin was so vibrant, so alive, and the light readily proved her hair to be a very dark brown rather than black. Her arms and torso were lithe and graceful, but also strong and defined. A shining, clear water droplet caught his attention. It ran down from her collar, along the curve of her breast, and beaded against her raised nipple. Treyp leaned forward just slightly and the droplet slid around to the underside of that peak and fell back into the water. Matthew's eyes did not follow it's final journey.
“Matthew!” Treyp laid a hand across her breasts and grinned at him.
“Okay, I get it now.” It sounded like an admission.
“You get it?”
“The fantasy,” Matthew agreed.
“The one about meeting a naked Dryad maiden in the woods. I've heard almost as much of that sort of thing as I have about the supposed evils of your people,” the assassin told her. He did not grin back at her, or waggle his eyebrows, or allow his expression to change in any other way.
Treyp stared at him for a long, quiet moment. Her dark eyes changed from that sparkling joy to a smoldering something-else. She seemed to come to a decision then, and when she spoke her voice was huskier than before. “Oh, I know that one.”
With a hand on Matthew's nearest shoulder, Treyp rose again to her feet. This time, however, she did not turn or step away. She stayed close, and her wet upper body glistened beneath the morning sun as her hands moved to her belt. It came open with an audible snap, and Matthew's eyes widened. The soft, black, loose fitting material that sheathed her lower body was already sliding down over her hips, revealing more of her shapely curves and the first of the dark curls that decorated her womanhood.
“Treyp,” Matthew began, raising his hands. “This isn't the time. We don't know how we got here or--”
The Dryad stood with her legs straight and bent forward, bringing her face nose-to-nose with his. Her hands were busy, still working the rest of her clothing and her short boots off of her long legs. She brushed the tip of her nose across his cheek and down the side of his face, and she brushed her lips against his as she spoke. “It's my dream, Matthew. That's where we are. Right now, I don't care how we got here or how we're getting back. For now I'm going to be a lusty, irresistible Dryad maiden, and you are going to show me just how well you understand that fantasy.”
She captured his lips completely then, her kiss full of a molten hunger that burned even hotter than the blistering sun he had grown up beneath. The two of them swayed slowly against each other, their tongues dancing as she finally managed to kick off her right boot and free her leg from the restraining fabric. Suddenly possessing a free hand, she stroked his dark hair and grasped his left shoulder for balance. The second boot came away more easily, and she kicked both it and the dark pants away without a care as to where they might land.
Pulling away, Treyp broke their contact so that she could stand tall before Matthew. She grinned again as she watched his eyes, strikingly light against the darker tones of his skin, drink in the sight of her. 'That's good,' she thought. 'No more arguments!' Then she planted one bare foot against his chest and shoved him backwards to the ground.
It was a while later when Matthew once again found himself lying on his back and staring at the sky above the strange clearing. The morning sun had given way to the afternoon, but the air was neither too warm or too cool for comfort. Even the few wisps of clouds that had stretched across that clear blue expanse were gone. Treyp lay next to him, her body contorted so that she could lay with her shoulders flat, but with her far leg tossed across his hips and her head nestled against his chest. She stirred a bit as he looked at her.
“Hi,” she said to him with an impish grin. Then she turned her head away and extended her arms, stretching her relaxed body.
“We've dallied long enough, I think.” Matthew told her, and she huffed her annoyance at him with the faintest of scowls. He continued, largely unconcerned by her reaction. “How did we get here? And are you sure that it is the clearing you remember?”
“I would recognize this clearing even if my eyes had deserted me,” Treyp said as she pulled away and sat up. Propping her hands against the soft grass behind her back, she illustrated her point by closing her eyes and turning her face toward the sun. Then she added, “But it's not real. I told you that already.”
Matthew was nonplussed as he stared at her, trying to make sense of her statement. Then understanding dawned on him. “You said it was a dream. Just before--”
“Yeah. Just before all that.” Treyp rose without even the slightest measure of self-consciousness and walked away from their spot beside the water, collecting her rumpled, discarded clothing as she went.
“Assuming that you're right, how do we get out?” Matthew was already pulling his own trousers back up his legs. He eyed his distant boots with a measure of surprise which suggested that he was not quite certain how they had gotten so far away.
“Beats me. But I am right.”
Treyp paused in the middle of recovering one of her own boots from a clump of tall grass. Then, with a shocking ferocity, she snatched it up, spun around and launched it directly at the assassin's head. “You're an ass!”
Matthew brought his fingers up, intercepted the flying object with a deft precision and flicked it aside. The two of them watched it sail through the air and land in the middle of the river. The clearing fell entirely silent, but for the slosh of water as the boot sank into it's depths. The assassin and the Dryad looked again at each other, and Treyp made a noise that sounded something like a hiss before throwing her other boot into the water after the first. She walked away, and Matthew sighed.
“She's going to need those,” he muttered a bit angrily as he took his trousers back down again and waded into the flowing water.