Chapter 1

Chapter 1

            I had said that I wanted to make things work with Satel, but once Cegil and I were settling in at the homestead, my feelings gradually turned pessimistic and sullen. I had learned listen  and talk out my differences thanks to Lioa, but that had only resolved the smaller issues, barely preventing the big ones from happening again. We’d ended up walking on eggshells around each other for the last month, him trying not to set me off, me trying to keep a hold on my emotions. I wanted to work things out with Satel, I really did, but…

Well, he made it hard for me to stay mad at him at least- he was as arrogant as always, but he was nothing but sweet to me. He was always so damn… happy to see me, no matter what I did to push him away. I eventually demanded time away from him, still somewhat uncomfortable with the attention, but he always found some way to ‘accidentally’ run into me during the day and proclaim how glad he was to have the chance to be with me for the brief time together. Then, of course, he’d insisted that we share a bed together every night- not that we were doing anything other than sleeping, but he’d still manipulated more time with him.

Overall, I found that it wasn’t easy adapting to a settled life- sleeping in one bed and waking up to the same room every day was unsettling. I was far too used to my days of wandering the world with Cegil. In fact, I’d been living on the move for most of my life. I found that it was really hard for me to get used to it all- everything was so different, and I felt so …out of place.

Perhaps it was because of this that I couldn’t accept what Satel wanted so easily. Both he and Cegil were used to living in a place like this, but this was nothing like the nomadic or seafaring lives I had left behind. In a way, it felt as if he was aiming to change who I was by dragging me away from nearly everything I knew. I really had no purpose anymore, or even anything to bide my time with, other than studying with Cegil, helping Lioa in the kitchens, and trying my hardest to give Satel the cold shoulder.

But even now, in what was supposed to be the time reserved for my guardian (…well ‘former’ technically, though he still did his best to care for me), he still found a reason to sit in and impose his presence on me. Cegil wanted to help me learn to read, so we met every morning in the library. It was proving to be a futile attempt so far, considering that I still only knew three words, but it’s only been two weeks since we’d started.

Cegil was running late, and I had a feeling Satel knew that when he chose to walk in and sit across from me. Since Didra liked to use the long table for her studies, Cegil and I used a small ‘room’ off near one of the walls that was located behind a few bookshelves. It wasn’t really a room, but it was isolated enough that I wouldn’t be distracted … too bad it couldn’t hide me from distractions, too.

I glared into my thick hardbound book as I tried very hard to ignore the platinum blond across from me. He was sitting with both elbows on the table and his chin resting between two palms as he gazed at me with pure joy in his rust colored eyes. His fingers were curved to touch the top of his cheekbones, just under his half-lidded eyes, and his thin lips were parted slightly as he gave me a lazy smile.

He looked like some love struck teenager… which I suppose technically he is, considering that he’s just a falcie. Even though he looks like he’s in his mid-twenties by human standards, he could be a teenage equivalent if they had a word for it in their race. Though, considering his age, and regardless of how sure he seems to be, I still had some difficulty in understanding him- how could he already proclaim himself in love with me when I didn’t even know how I felt about him?

Even after over a month of living with him, I was too proud to let him know that I couldn’t read. Having him here watching me was making me nervous, and I was scared of him finding out about what Cegil and I did every morning, once the elder brother finally appeared for my daily lesson. As far as I knew, Satel had no idea what I did here with Cegil- I hope he assumes that I just read books and receive lessons on falucite culture.

To fool him, I had to put up a good act as I counted in my head when to turn the page and try to move my eyes in a mimicry of reading… It wasn’t easy to pay attention to my act when my eyes continued to dart back to that face he was making. There was no question in my mind that he was genuinely happy to sit there and watch me do nothing- he was damn giddy, in fact!

I could feel my face burn as I wished he would just go away and leave me to my thoughts. I tried to raise the book high enough so that my eyes were hidden from him, but he would just reach over and push it down with just one finger before resuming his position of ‘adoration’. I scowled more and tried harder to pretend he wasn’t there.

This wouldn’t be so hard if that über hat of his wasn’t perched in such a way that made him appear adorable. Satel shouldn’t seem cute to me at all- I had a difficult enough time trying to understand my feelings between his insistent kisses and the fear of a future where I might end up hurting him. I was stuck with him for the rest of my life and yet I had no clue if he could be that ‘one’ for me. I never got the chance to really think about ‘us’ that thoroughly.

This was a huge mess, and it was all on him because he was so impatient.

“Don’t you have things to do?” I hissed, finally reaching my limit.

“Tons,” he replied in a tone that indicated that he was elated to be speaking with me.

“Why don’t you go do them, then?” I muttered with a sneer, hoping he would take the hint and finally leave.

Instead, he sat up and said, “Because I can’t bear to be parted from you- I cannot go another day without your pulchritudinous countenance,” he announced with flourish before I stared at him with a raised eyebrow.

What in five hells did pulchritudinous mean? His smirk grew wider and his eyes darkened mischievously as he silently dared me to ask him what possible insult he might’ve given me. Though something told me it wasn’t an insult, but something intended to get my attention.

“How do you say that crap with a straight face?” I inquired monotonously, choosing to dismiss the word and focus on the meaning of the entire speech he’d given me. ‘Can’t be parted from’ my ass- we spent every night together. Wasn’t that enough for him?

“Because I mean every word, my most cherished sirsa,” he purred as he reached over and gently brushed back a stray strand of my light brown hair behind my ear. The damn table wasn’t large enough to keep him far enough away from me. “And I just called you supremely beautiful, if you were wondering.”

“I wasn’t,” I responded flatly, though I was somewhat interested to know that. “Go away.”

“I don’t want to. Nothing gives me greater pleasure than to be in your presence. I’m – what is the phrase you use? – damn giddy to be with you,” Satel replied as he rested his head fully on the back of one hand and used the other to seek one of mine. “I’m not used to having a mate, so I’m still feeling the excitement to have you here with me- I just can’t get enough of you ‘Tia-dear.”

…And his confession had my heart pounding, my emotions churning, and a whole lot of confusion to build up. I did feel a flutter of something stir in me, but it was quickly crushed down by the fear. The scariest part about what he was offering was that I had to figure out what I wanted in with my life, and if I wanted him to be in it- that alone was more than enough to convince me to try to draw away and find some solitude to think, but once again, he wasn’t allowing me the chance.

“It’s been weeks– how long will it take before you get ‘used to it’?” I snapped back.

“Hopefully never,” he quipped in a light tone, sounding utterly delighted at the thought of being so eternally cheerful in my presence. Had this been said by any other man or between any other couple, I’d be pretending to puke. But for some reason, the sappiness coming out of Satel’s mouth only stirred those nervous flutterings in me.

In response, I tore my hand away from his and clutched my book tightly as I tried to practically bury my nose between the pages in an attempt to pretend-read harder. I almost missed the slip in his expression- for a short split second, I’d managed to make him display some frustration and disappointment.

“As you pointed out, my dearest, it’s been over a month since I’ve made you mine. I’ve been very patient with you, and I’ve given you your space for-”

“Space!?” I shouted incredulously as my head shot up from the book. I momentarily forgot that I was in the library and that I needed to keep my voice down. I continued loudly, saying, “You insist I sleep with you every night- you trap me in a room with no doors, leaving me no choice but to spend the evenings with you. What more do you ask of me?”

Satel allowed another annoyed glimmer to slip past his smiling façade- it was gone quickly, but his smile was strained now. He lowered his voice and whispered, “We’ve been irritatingly celibate since our first time, and you only allow a few kisses before you insist on going to bed. All I ask is to spend more quality time with you- a date if nothing else.”

I knew I was being a little unfair to him, given that he had been rather patient with me, but I had to remain firm on my desire to think it through. What if I don’t feel the same way he does later on? Wouldn’t that hurt him much more than the cold shoulder I was giving him now? I didn’t want to hurt him, but he placed me in a position to where I had to make a choice. I couldn’t force myself to say ‘Yeah, I love him and we’ll live happily ever after’- that’s not how it worked for humans. I felt the best thing I could do for him until I sorted myself out was to keep my distance- maybe that way, he won’t be so crushed if it doesn’t work out.

I lowered my voice again to match his, “For someone who’s been – what was your term? – unmated for one hundred and thirty years, you seem to have a very one track mind about it,” I retorted mockingly, deliberately throwing some words back at him to hide my inner turmoil. The fact that he had to mention it at all proved that he was getting impatient again and was probably trying to coerce me into caving in sooner than I would like.

He continued quietly, looking around quickly for eavesdroppers, “Don’t misunderstand me- now that I’ve had a taste of that carnality with you, I want more, but I will not take it until you want me to. And while I’ll never understand why you’re so hesitant on the matter, I assure you my badgering you this day has nothing to do with it. I’m quite insistent on that date, my sirsa,” he reaffirmed  before he firmly gripped my book and pushed it down so he could see more of me. “You said you would give me a chance- why not now?”

I didn’t have an answer ready for that- I did say that I would give our relationship a chance, just to see if it were possible for me to be happy with him. …But I’ll never figure out that answer if I continue to dodge him as I’ve done. I honestly didn’t know why I was so hesitant to do anything with him, but I blamed it on my sudden change in settings and lifestyle. Though surely I should’ve gotten over it by now?

Though there were numerous other factors, most of which included my getting in touch with my feminine side, thanks to Lioa’s influence. Through her I’ve been learning about romance and why those stupid first kisses and losing one’s virginity was so important to a girl. Being raised around men deadened the whole concept of romance to me, so not only was Satel my first in everything, he was also an enigma that I’d never had to consider before.

He smiled somewhat sadly and added at a normal tone, “Please ‘Tia-dear- you know I’ll beg if I have to,” He managed a darker smirk. “…Or are you hesitating to take me up on my offer because you’re scared to find out how much you love me?”

I narrowed my eyes at him. It made me a little angry to hear him point that out like he knew what I was thinking, but I could see what he was really trying to do- he was challenging me so that I would agree. That was another point out of his favor- his playful and sometimes taunting attitude could sometimes be another problem with me. I liked his arrogance, but sometimes I had a hard time believing most of what he’d say because I’m so used to him playing his games. Thankfully, it wasn’t so much that I was worried his feelings for me were just one big prank to him- I was just greatly concerned that he didn’t really ‘love’ me outside of the fact that I was a compatible female for him to mate with.

He could just want someone he could have fun with by his side- and that much wouldn’t so bad for me, if I didn’t know for a fact that he wanted falcie someday. No matter my concern, it all boiled down to figuring out what I wanted.

I’m startled out of my thoughts when a book was slammed shut in the distance, followed by an ominous growl of frustration. Satel and I both flinch as we hear a chair scrape across the tiled floor. We knew we were in trouble. We’d disturbed Didra.

The evil shrew lady usually didn’t have a problem with Cegil and I sharing the same area with her everyday, but then we usually sit far enough away and used a low tone when speaking. But… I wasn’t exactly whispering as normal once Satel got me worked up, and falucite had really good hearing, so there was no way Didra couldn’t have heard our muttering.

As we heard her footsteps, we frantically rushed to act as though we had been silently reading the entire time. Satel quickly reached into his frock coat to pull out a small book and flipped through it with one hand. The other hand buried into his long hair as his eyes nervously darted across the pages.

From my vantage point, I was the first to see the pink haired menace as she rounded the bookcase and glared at us with venom in her light green eyes.

“This place is for reading and studying- not for idle conversations about your love life! If you must insist on discussing your mating activities, then go elsewhere!” the woman bellowed.

I blushed at the mention of ‘mating activities’- she was making it sound like we were talking about sex. Save for what was shouted, she shouldn’t have heard our words exactly… but if I recall, I was the last to say something about our bedroom.

“Didra-dear, this library doesn’t belong to you alone- this is the property of the entire clan,” Satel muttered in a very ‘who died and made you librarian?’ way.

They (as in Cujol) say that Didra was extra temperamental due to her pregnancy, but I was under the impression she was no one to mess with long before Garroe put a falcie in her. Regardless of the cause, she was quick to take offense at his thoughtless words and slammed her hand on the table before him.

“Excuse me?” She sneered down at him as he withered under her death glare. “It sounds as though someone is volunteering for a little medical experiment.”

Satel was rightly afraid of his sister-in-law, but sometimes I wonder how he could talk back to her and expect to get away with it. It was as if he had no ability to keep his mouth shut in the face of dangerous situations. He winced and made nervous gestures when Didra interacted with him, and yet he continued to run at the mouth like he was trying to prove something. Idiot…

I decided that this was as good a time as any to flee. Cegil was apparently not showing up today, so there was no point in staying around. I left my book behind and excused myself with a bow while the evil shrew dealt with her younger brother-in-law. It was a very low blow to leave him like this, but I didn’t feel ready to move forward and deal with him just yet.

Though I would soon find that Satel wasn’t really giving me a choice this time. I had apparently stalled long enough.

 ********************

Later on in the day, I confronted Cegil and discovered exactly why he hadn’t shown up. Satel – that little wautar – had asked him not to come just so he could have that chance to talk to me. I was fairly livid to find that out, that he had deliberately interrupted the special time set aside for me and my father figure, but tried not to take it out on Cegil. I politely, if a bit frostily, requested the tall man to never skip out on our time again without warning.

“I apologize for that, but Satel was in the right to ask. As a mated couple, you should be communicating with him better than what you have been doing. I will not be catering to his requests too often, but I will aid him if I personally witness discord between the two of you,” the lavender haired man warned, his similar rust-colored eyes boring into me.

“Oh thanks a lot!” I growled, hurt that he would choose his brother over me. ….Well, to be fair, he wasn’t really ‘choosing’- as far as he knew, he was helping. But what happened to his vow to help me, or his promise to aid in my escape should I decide this life was not for me? It seemed more like he was taking Satel’s side and was trying to push me before I was ready.

I glowered as Cegil raised his giant hand and patted me on the head with a tiny smirk. “You have made this choice to stay and live with him, Dantia- you need to take responsibility for your decisions. I should not have to be the mediator between you and he.”

I twitched under his hand. He was telling me to man up and take my lumps. He was right, of course, though it didn’t make me feel any better to realize this. I was lucky enough to have gotten what I wanted out of this relationship: I didn’t lose Cegil in my life, and I still got to see him every day. There were no major sacrifices I had to make, nor was there anything for me to lose in trying.

“Okay fine…” I agreed after a long sigh. “But don’t let him disrupt my studies again!”

“Fair enough- you are in severe need of a proper education,” Cegil replied, a hint of humor in his voice.

“…Hey!” I shouted when I caught the undertone of his teasing.

No more could be said when the gong of a bell rang in the distance, signaling the start of dinner. I could have complained the entire trip, but there was no point in bothering Cegil on matters that were between me and his brother. And the giant man would just figure out another way to tease me, no doubt.

Naturally, Satel was waiting for me near the dining hall to escort me to my seat, and I made sure to give him an extra frosty shoulder in return for what he’d pulled this morning. It was petty of me to do since he was only trying to reason with me, but my pride wouldn’t allow for his games at my expense.

But it seemed he didn’t mind my behavior, since he was surprisingly quiet during the meal. For a moment, I thought he figured out that I was upset with him and was trying to repent… but I soon discovered that he was up to something when I’d caught his eye. He looked positively mischievous, and I wasn’t sure if I should be cautious or annoyed.

Usually Satel would take me back to our bedchambers after dinner, where he would kiss me for a few minutes and then I would excuse myself to get ready for bed. It was routine by now, but something in his demeanor made me wary. I was tempted to run off and find somewhere else to sleep, but I knew he would chase after me if I tried.

Besides, there was nowhere else for me to go- and I couldn’t find sanctuary somewhere else and change my mind later, because he was the only one who could teleport us into our chambers. Most rooms in the homestead were designed for falucite, so there was no way for a human like me to get there. So it was with great reluctance that I took my mate’s offered arm and waited for the familiar setting of our room to appear…

…But I ended up being shocked to see a darkened alley instead.

My eyes darted around the unfamiliar place, allowing me to get a basic idea of where I was. The ground was dry and cracked, and the buildings were made of stone and wood, meaning we were somewhere in the Wastelands. Since it was well past sunset here, the only light reaching us was from the mouth of the alley, where judging by the racket, some sort of festival was in full swing.

“What is the meaning of this?” I asked darkly as I gazed up to the über hat man. There was just enough light for me to see the satisfied look on his face, proving to me that he’d planned this for a while.

“You didn’t say ‘no’,” he replied coyly, reminding me of how I fled this morning. “And I am getting quite tired of not getting an answer from you at all.”

I flinched subtly at that. This wasn’t the first time he’d asked me to do something with him, though it was the first he’d formally asked for a ‘date’. I never got around to giving him any answers- I’d always say ‘I’ll think about it’ or just find some excuse to run away. I didn’t have it in me to outwardly tell him no, but at the same time, I had no courage to say yes either.

“Since we’re here, we might as well partake of the festivities and enjoy ourselves for a while, hmm?” he prodded as he grabbed both my hands and began gently pulling me towards the exit of the alley.

I dug my heels into the ground and freed my hands before he could succeed. “But I- you know I don’t like crowded places.”

“It’s not that bad. This is a small town on the border of the Wastelands- and it’s one of my territories, so you’re free to cause as much trouble as you please,” Satel informed me before he leaned in closer to briefly rub noses with me. “I might even help in the chaos if it’d bring a smile to your face.”

I quickly turned my head away as my cheeks burned. No matter how much I wanted to avoid him, I was still clearly attracted to him enough to react to his intimate gestures. But there was still the fact that I was angry at being teleported out here against my wishes, so I couldn’t allow myself to enjoy it. Even though I’ve been unable to answer him, he didn’t have any right to pressure me like that and I wasn’t about to let him get away with it.

“Why must this be done tonight? How do you know I don’t have something important to do tomorrow?” I argued in a vain attempt to prove a point.

Do you have something to do?” he inquired earnestly, willing to give me the benefit of the doubt. He knew I didn’t, but it said a lot that he chose not to call me out on it.

“No, but that’s beside the point,” I said while shaking my head. I tried to take a few steps back, but he ended up following me and grabbed my arms.

“Come on ‘Tia-dear, just indulge me this one evening.” I instantly felt bad at hearing his tired and pleading tone. He shouldn’t have to waste so much time on me- so why wasn’t he giving up? It would be so much easier if he did…

“We can do everything you like- have a drink, insult random strangers, start a riot… You can knock out some man’s teeth and totally get away with it,” he added, eyes wide and hopeful, making me feel even worse.

“How about I knock out your teeth!?” I muttered furiously as I shrugged my arms out of his grasp. I didn’t mean to give him a threat, but I was being pushed into aggravation. I likely also pushed Satel’s buttons there too, as he let out a tired sigh before plastering an evil smirk on his face. The look in his eyes gave me pause.

“Go ahead- give it a try. Prove that you want nothing to do with me and I’ll take you home,” he offered, finally driven to his last nerve. He then moved closer, easily into my reach, to prove his was being serious.

That was when I paused realized that this was going too far. What in five hells was wrong with me? I never wanted to punch Satel ever again- not after that last fight we’d had. I didn’t really want to fight with him, and I was starting to think that, maybe, I was resisting because it had become a habit. Satel was all about his games and torment, so perhaps I was just trying to stay one move ahead of him in it.

But this wasn’t a game anymore- and there was no need to punish him when we were supposed to be starting over. I had to end this nonsense and just… grow up. I grit my teeth and let out a frustrated cry as I sharply faced the wall next to us and raised my fist to hit that instead. I just wanted to get rid of all the anger and stubbornness, and I felt this was the way to do it- without having to hurt Satel in the process.

Before my fist could make contact with the hard wall, Satel moved with blinding speed and placed the palm of his hand in my path just before the hit, cushioning my knuckles before I could hurt myself against the stone. I jerked away from him, startled. Damn it, I didn’t want this…

“Don’t try to hurt yourself on my account,” he said as he shook his now injured hand. Why did he see the need to protect me from the little things as well? This man was too much for me…

“It wasn’t for you,” I mumbled as I glanced at his hand with guilt. I didn’t want to hurt him at all, and yet I still seem to do so no matter what I do. “I can’t hit you- not anymore.”

“Well that’s promising… but why did you…?” He trailed off as he pondered my sudden actions.

“I don’t hate you, okay? But even now I’m still confused about us- I still need more time to think,” I requested, hoping, praying that he would understand this time. I’ve said this before, but he just didn’t seem to get why it was taking me so long. Asking for time to think was only enough to get him off my back for a few days, but unless I could somehow go into greater detail as to why I needed it, he’ll probably never stop badgering me.

I knew that I  sidestepped answering why I’d tried to punch the wall, but I didn’t think I could explain that- I never understood why I sought violence as an answer to clear my head. It might just be a lingering habit from my early days of being a boy.

“‘Tia-dear, don’t shoulder your burdens alone. Let me help you- let me show you how good we are together. I won’t force you to decide how you feel, but I swear if you allow me into your life more you’ll figure it out with much more ease,” he promised as his uninjured hand nestled under my chin to tilt my head up and meet his eyes.

I sighed in defeat, just tired now and wanting to get this over with. Maybe it would actually help…“Okay, okay… I’ll go with you on this date… but I can’t promise I’ll enjoy myself- don’t get upset if this doesn’t work,” I warned him quietly before I winced and added, “It’s nothing against you, but I don’t like to socialize with others.”

I wasn’t sure why I had to discourage him- it must just be another habit to point out what could realistically happen. I made sure to emphasize that it wouldn’t be because of him, though, just that I would be in a situation that I normally avoid. It didn’t matter if it were a small town or a big city- I wasn’t a social butterfly, and I hated to be at the center of a public gathering.

“Then there’s nothing to worry about- you’re all mine, and I have no intention of sharing you,” the über hat man replied with a smirk as he placed his arm around me and began guiding me out to the town. He couldn’t hide the relief and elation on his face that I finally agreed to go with him, and I couldn’t help but feel some rush of satisfaction that I managed to make him feel that way. I guess it did make me feel good to make him happy…

For the next hour or so, I reluctantly allowed Satel to guide me around the village and try to persuade me into trying out the various attractions. They had food, games, dancing, and a lot of lively talking and laughing, but I didn’t really partake in any of that. We’d already eaten, and I wasn’t in the mood to drink (surprisingly), so there wasn’t much else to do that I was comfortable with, save for watching other’s stupidity and talking with him. Satel did use his magicks to prank a few humans, but it was only a mild distraction that earned a brief smile from me. It wasn’t enough to eliminate my unease, and it couldn’t make me forget my problems.

Even during the last festival we’d attended together, I’d had to retreat to a quiet corner far away before I felt at ease. At the time, we’d stayed away because it was Maetira’s territory, and Satel knew he didn’t have permission to mess with the humans under his sister’s care. While I probably would’ve had fun taunting and tormenting back then, I just wasn’t feeling it right now. I was much more comfortable keeping my distance and watching them from afar. The less I had to interact with humans, the less I hated them, and somewhere deep down felt that it was better that way.

Surprisingly, I didn’t feel that overwhelming disgust I used to feel before- perhaps Lioa’s influence in my life was changing me. But I was no less anxious to be in the middle of a celebration among people I didn’t know.

Satel wanted to do more than just sit back and talk- he had tried to convince me to let him win me something in their quaint games, but I didn’t want to receive anymore gifts from him. He gave me far more than I was comfortable receiving not too long ago- I still didn’t feel as though I’d really repaid him for the knife sheath and sword. He tried his best to entertain me, and I tried my best to give him the chance, but… this clearly wasn’t working.

My inner pride could gloat at how this was turning into a disaster, and that I was right to be wary of dating him again… but at the same time, I wasn’t looking forward to seeing his disappointed face. I knew it was going to hurt him to discover that we didn’t have as much in common as he’d thought. Sure, we had similar views and a somewhat sadistic love for causing trouble, but that was only one hobby- one that I wasn’t in the mood for at the moment.

“Satel, I know you’re trying, but I think we should go back now,” I told him quietly, feeling bad that I had to say it. There was no point in dragging this out further, and I was growing more uncomfortable by the second.

But he wasn’t so willing to give up just yet. He contemplated my plea as his rust colored eyes drifted over to the area where many couples were dancing before one last idea came to his mind. I warily turned my head to see what exactly he was looking so intently at, and I wondered what kind of chaos he was planning in his villainous head. All I could see was the villagers paired off and moving in a lively rhythm to music that was just as cheerful and jaunty.

“Very well,” the platinum blond said suddenly, shocking me with his words. I wasn’t expecting him to concede defeat so easily, but I soon discovered that not all was as it seemed. He smiled down at me and held out his hand. “But before we do, may I have this dance?”

“Dance? N-no, I don’t dance,” I replied with a light stutter.

He tilted his head slightly, his über hat casting a shadow over his eyes. “Don’t? Or can’t?” he questioned, noting my wording.

“Don’t,” I replied as I shook my head. “I’ve never tried before, so I don’t know if I can or not.”

I never really had the opportunity to try it out before, but I usually avoided it since I had no reason to try. I heard that the ability to dance was something that one either had or didn’t, and I didn’t want to make myself look like a fool if I was one of those who didn’t have it. Satel wasn’t deterred at all. He grinned widely – and probably sadistically, the bastard- as he insisted that I come and find out.

“Well then, now would be a good time to try- I can teach you how,” he offered as he grabbed my hand without waiting for my response, pulling me over to the dancing area. My anxiety increased tenfold as I was suddenly immersed among the swaying bodies.

“I don’t know about this…” I said, my voice tight as he guided one of my hands to rest on his chest while his other hand held my free one. His grin turned into a sweet smile before he grasped my waist and proceeded to move me along to the music.

“Don’t worry about it ‘Tia-dear. Just one dance and I promise we’ll go home after. Just move your feet in time with the beat, and follow my lead.”

I was nervous at first as I tried to do as he suggested, trying to make sure I didn’t step on his feet. After a while, I realized that this wasn’t too bad and began to glance at the other dancers to see how they were moving. The song that was playing was a traditional upbeat folksong that required a lot of hip moving and a slight bounce to the step.

Once I started to mimic them successfully, Satel let out a laugh before he pushed me back suddenly and twirled me around once. I was stunned by the move, but somehow I didn’t falter in my step and managed to return to his arms and resume the dance smoothly.

“Heh, you’re a natural- I didn’t have to teach you at all,” he complimented me with a proud look. I found myself smiling back at him, unsure if I was feeling happy because of the fact that I could dance after all, or that I’d managed to impress him.

What I didn’t know at the time was that the music blended together very easily, so we ended up dancing far longer than expected. I was too busy matching Satel and learning new moves to realize the time or the fact that our ‘one dance’ had ended a long time ago. The melody must’ve changed well over five times before I noticed, and I soon realized that I was having far too much fun to care.

Who knew that I would actually enjoy this, let alone spend hours doing it with Satel?

We were so in tune with each other, and I fit so well in his arms- it was almost as if we were made for each other. I couldn’t believe I hadn’t noticed this before- then again, I’ve been pretty damn stubborn about avoiding discoveries like this. Satel was absolutely thrilled to see the smile stay on my face and was smart enough not to point out how I was enjoying this. He knew it would only ruin the night if he boasted now.

Many hours later, the music began to slow, a special song for lovers taking over. It was the kind of song where bodies were pressed together and the only movement was a light swaying motion. There was still a faint smile on my face, even though the dancing wasn’t as energetic or exciting as the last few were. I think I surprised us both when I rested my head on his chest and closed my eyes for a few seconds.

It wasn’t until Satel started to speak when my eyes snapped open and I realized that I was beginning to drift off. I didn’t even know I was getting tired.

“Ah, sorry ‘Tia-dear, I didn’t mean to lose track of the time. It is getting late,” he pointed out, accurately identifying my sleepiness. “Shall we head home?”

I managed a nod before he began to lead me away from the dancers. I was suddenly so exhausted that he had to support most of my weight as we headed down another secluded alley. We didn’t stop walking until his teleport magicks blinked us into our chambers. I was then guided to our bed, where I sat down at the edge and attempted to take off my boots.

Satel had beaten me to it- he was already kneeling before me before I could bend down. I had to wonder exactly how long we had been dancing, because I nodded off a few times, only to jerk awake before I could fall. I was never able to stay up very late, but I couldn’t believe we’d managed to stay out that long.

“So… did you have fun?” the blurry blond bastard tried to inquire slyly as he glanced up at me with glee… I think. It was getting hard to focus my eyes, I was so tired.

“Yeah, a little,” I managed to respond, earning an exaggerated eye roll from him.

“Please- no need to give me such adoration,” he muttered sarcastically as he deftly removed my footwear. “Can’t you just admit for one night that you liked being with me?”

“Don’t push your luck,” I said with a light slur. I was fading fast- I didn’t think I would be able to get dressed for bed at this rate. My body began to fall back onto the bed as my mate gave a dry laugh.

“You can’t blame me for trying, my sirsa,” he commented before a strange hum came to my throat and everything faded to black.

I wasn’t sure if I’d passed out then, or if I was only half-aware, but by next morning I was in my nightclothes and Satel was cuddling with me as usual.

That night was what really got my attention- it helped me open my eyes to what could possibly be my future with him, one full of happiness with my mate. With these new discoveries banging at my door, my resistance was finally beginning to crumble.

To the Next Chapter

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