...Jarrad returned to his own position and he and Allend lifted their bows and went back to target practice, while tossing out occasional good-natured jibes at each other.
Wesley on the other hand stood stiff and felt even more awkward than he had earlier because even though he could no longer see him, he felt Lieutenant Daneson standing behind him, watching him. Knowing he couldn’t keep dawdling like an oaf, he finally nocked the arrow he’d been holding. He lifted the bow and began to draw, but stopped when he felt hands on his shoulders and the warmth of a tall body close in behind him.
Holy gods. The contact between the lieutenant’s hands and his skin, even through his shirt, was a searing brand that sent ripples of awareness through him. Now what was he supposed to do?
He felt his face flush again as the draegan said softly against his ear, with a hint of humor in his voice, “Breathe.”
He did, sucking in a gulp of air and letting it out slowly.
“Loosen your shoulders.” The lieutenant squeezed them gently for emphasis. “Widen your stance a little.”
Wesley did, but at this point he was just going through the motions as he was told, because he couldn’t think at all with the draegan so close to him. So close he could actually feel the warmth of his taut, muscular body seeping through the back of his shirt. He’d taken off his own cloak earlier when the combination of their daily training exercises and the pale winter sun had left him overheated, but now he felt overheated for completely different reasons.
He could have sworn he heard a low chuckle, as if the lieutenant knew exactly what he was thinking. But he couldn’t, of course. Draegans had a form of magick they used, but they couldn’t read minds. Damn…could they?
“Elbow up.” A hand on his arm put it in the correct position, and once again Wesley allowed himself to be arranged. “Pads of your fingers on the string. Good. Now sight your target as you draw, hold for a moment, then release.”
Wesley did, hoping the shot wouldn’t totally embarrass him.
It did, of course, wobbling and falling to the side of his bag.
Before he could say anything though, the lieutenant gave his shoulder another light squeeze and said, “It’s okay. Do it again.”
With a hand he hoped wasn’t shaking, he pulled another arrow from the quiver next to him and nocked it.
“This time let’s try something different,” that husky voice said, still so near to his ear. “I want you to close your eyes.”
“What?” That jarred Wesley out of his dream-like stupor.
The draegan’s soft laugh made his skin tingle. “You heard me. Close your eyes.”
“You have good form, but you’re over thinking, trying too hard, and this is going to help.”
“Trust me, Wes.”
His heart skipped a beat at the warm, easy way the lieutenant used his nickname. Wesley did trust him; that wasn’t the problem at all. It was himself he didn’t trust. The lieutenant left him so rattled just by being near that he could barely keep his thoughts together, much less expect his body to behave and not give away, in blatantly obvious fashion, just what his presence did to him. But he didn’t want the draegan to know how in over his head he was right now, so he let his eyes flicker shut...