Chapter 2

Chapter 2

            Not too much had changed after that day, but the dancing gave Satel much hope. He had tried to find other festivals to take me to, but they weren’t so plentiful around this time of year. So when that failed, he resorted to seducing me with a quick dance whenever we happened to cross paths during the day.

It didn’t take me long to resist those advances, too- for one, we needed music, and two, we looked ridiculous twirling about in the halls of the homestead where anyone could see us. I wanted to die in embarrassment when Cegil had caught us, but I was a little torn at seeing the amused grin that appeared on his face. His emotions had been returning slowly, so it was nice to see him react, but at the same time it wasn’t ideal that it had to be at my expense.

The worst part was that now Satel was starting to be loud in his declarations of love. He would announce it, hold my hands, or even try to kiss me whenever he had the chance. He didn’t care who was around to witness it. Unfortunately that was considered acceptable falucite behavior, as they were openly affectionate and very accepting of romance and mating. It didn’t make me any less embarrassed about it though, so I’d try to get away from him as quickly as possible.

Most of the falucite present didn’t really pay us any mind- they just continued on with their day as if affection was the most natural thing in the world. …Which for them it was. But the human and greater demon servants were a different matter- I felt that they were staring, but when I’d glare in their direction, their heads were politely turned. This was another culture clash that I wasn’t getting used to, as humans viewed sex and affection as something entirely private, never to be let outside of the bedroom.

…Well, to be fair, there were some humans out there that were shameless about sex, but at least they did so in their own private establishments. Only those who wanted it were exposed.

But my attempts to avoid him and my constant refusal somehow ended up being a popular topic around the clan, and before I knew it, I’d been getting advice from Cegil and his family about how to flirt better. It annoyed me how everyone was on Satel’s side and that I was the one in the wrong. I couldn’t even gain any support from Lioa, a fellow human who should understand me.

It also didn’t help me that every encounter with Satel somehow left me warm and breathless. He certainly wasn’t holding back with the kisses anymore, and he was doing his damned hardest to make me give in and accept his advances. Damn if I didn’t want it- I wasn’t about to lie and say that I didn’t enjoy that first time we’d had together, but it was the meaning of our joining that prevented me from surrendering.

While sex wasn’t something I would freely discuss, I understood that it was something that didn’t have to bind two people together in a permanent relationship. Thus I didn’t really care that I’d lost my virginity to him- I was in the mindset that it was perfectly okay to have sex, so long as it was my choice. Therefore, I’d have no qualms about mating with him again… but for Satel, it had a completely different meaning. If I were to mate with him again, then I needed to be absolutely sure of my feelings for him- and I still didn’t know.

It was a little more than a week after our date, and I went back to my usual routine of meeting Cegil in the mornings, Lioa in the afternoons, …and Satel at night. Nothing had changed since that night nine days ago- at least that’s what I was trying to convince myself. I had a few moments where I’d think about him fondly. In my daydreams, of which I had many these days, we were just dancing.

Sometimes I’d catch myself swaying to a silent song or humming out a tune I remembered hearing as I worked. If anyone pointed it out and equated it to Satel, I’d deny it vehemently and just claim that I liked dancing. My behavior had absolutely nothing do to with Satel- nope!

I didn’t miss the feel of his arms around me during the day- why should I when I feel them around me at night? I wasn’t secretly hoping to run into him in the halls to see his smiling face. Even if I did, my next reaction would be to run in the opposite direction. …And someday, perhaps soon, I’ll realize that saying all of this crap wasn’t helping me one bit. I wasn’t as keen on fighting him as I was before… and I was slowly growing tired of it.

I let out another sigh – one that was a little too wistful for my liking – as I placed another pot into the soapy water. I had argued long and hard with Satel to earn the right to see Lioa everyday and help her in the kitchens. If it were up to him, I’d be pampered by the servants and spend every waking moment by his side.

Thankfully, he was easy to reason with- all I had to do was mention how Lioa made my stay easier, and he relented. He still didn’t like that I insisted on washing dishes, but he respected my reasoning behind seeing the matronly woman. Lioa was the only female influence in my life- I never had a mother or a female role model to teach me how to be a girl. All I had was the pirate crew, and later, Cegil. Not a bit of estrogen to be found.

So really, it was no surprise that I’m as messed up as I am. Cegil is a positive influence for me, but there was only so much he could teach me, particularly as I got older. Maybe it was because I was so out of touch with my feminine side that I had such difficulty accepting Satel in a romantic way…

Ugh. It was so much easier being a guy.

“Aww, you’re thinking of Lord Satel again,” Lioa commented in a fond tone from behind me.

“No I’m not,” I denied quickly as I began scrubbing the pot with a wash rag. Lioa was not just the only womanly figure in my life, she was also the first human to accept me as I am. I’d been ostracized by all for my heritage, either as a pirate or a seafarer. I’d become very attached to her as a result, and have come to rely on her a lot for advice. Unfortunately, this had to be the one time she isn’t helpful…

“You are dancing again- and humming,” she pointed out in a knowing voice. I didn’t look, but I could just imagine the smug look on her matronly face as she said that…

“So?” I shot back, going into defensive mode immediately. “That has nothing to do with him… I just like to dance is all- and it helps me with my chores. Oh- and it’s a good workout, too. You should try it sometime Lioa.”

I winced at little when I realized that I’d just insinuated that she was fat. That wasn’t my intention at all, but I needed something to distract her from what was sure to be a long conversation about Satel.

“That is very rude of you young lady,” the short woman scolded in a stern tone before she made it sly, “but I forgive you since you’re only making excuses.”

“I am not!” I shouted as I felt my cheeks heat up a little. But before the chef could say anything else, I added an apology as an afterthought, “Though I am sorry for what I said- I didn’t mean to say anything hurtful in regards to your appearance.”

“Don’t change the subject- you are too making excuses,” Lioa replied smugly, seeming completely unaffected by my accidental insult.

“Am not!” I argued as I started scrubbing furiously at the already clean pot.

Given her mood and the nature of the already childish argument, I thought she was going to continue the banter, but she caught me off guard with a disappointed sigh.

“Aren’t you a little old to be playing games? Clearly you’ve realized your feelings for Lord Satel already- otherwise you wouldn’t grinning more than half the time when you’re lost in your thoughts.”

I paused at that- had I been smiling too? I threw a light glare over my shoulder at her and barely caught her expression. She was standing there with her hands on her hips and smirking at me like she knew everything.

“I’ll admit that I like him and I get along with him very well, but let’s not forget that he was the one who kidnapped me and mated me against my will,” I pointed out, seeking to gain some ground to justify my concerns. After all, what Satel did to me was basically imprisonment and forced marriage, at least by human terms.

It’s true that my complicity in the end nullified those negative views, and that falucite had instincts to guide them in finding their mates (hence why I became willing eventually), but it was still the principle of the thing! All because there was a huge difference between the cultures of falucite and humans didn’t mean I should just accept all that at face value- we should’ve met halfway somehow…

“Yes, a crime that you had forgiven and promised to forget in favor of starting over. You acknowledge that falucite feel and act differently from us, and you notice how he’s been so patiently waiting for you to reciprocate his feelings- you even have an offer to escape this life, and yet you don’t take it. You have plenty of choices, but you haven’t decided on anything. How long do you intend to drag your feet and wear down your mate?”

Wear down Satel? That wasn’t my fault- he was the one over-enthusiastically chasing after me and trying to tire me out. …But I guess that’s the strength of his devotion to me. No matter how far I’d try to run, he’d follow after me… damn it.

I also hated that Lioa not only thwarted my main argument, but also reminded me that I didn’t have to stay and endure it. I wasn’t a prisoner here, and Satel genuinely thought that it would work out between us, going by how well I’d gotten along with him before… at least ‘well’ in terms of how I usually got along with others.

“I’m not dragging anything- I just want to make sure so I don’t end up hurting him later. No matter what Satel’s ‘instincts’ might say, there is a good chance I might not fall in love with him,” I replied to save face. I wasn’t even sure if that was true, given that falucite are rarely wrong about their choices, but… there will always be a part of me bound by my human perceptions. True binding love just didn’t seem to exist for my kind.

“No- you are just being stubborn now. You’re clearly in love with him, but you just don’t want to admit it. Stop fighting and go be happy with him,” the stout woman insisted as she made ‘shooing’ motions with her hands. I scoffed as I rinsed the pot and reached for a bowl.

“How can you tell if I’m in love? I think that’s something only I can decide, thank you,” I said snootily, trying very hard to act offended. Somehow, I wasn’t as angry as I should’ve been, considering Lioa was claiming to know me so well. I decided that she was only trying tease me, and perhaps trick me into saying something that would work in Satel’s favor later. There was no way she could see something about myself that I couldn’t, right?

“Sometimes your body knows faster than your mind- and your eyes give your feelings away,” Lioa chimed before I turned to face her.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” I inquired with a puzzled face. The older woman just smiled at me.

“When you’re in love, you just look and feel happy. There’s no denying that the unbridled joy in your eyes started just after that date you had.” She then pointed over to the small table in the kitchen and finished with, “Just ask Lord Satel.”

I let out a startled cry when I finally noticed him sitting there. I had been so distracted by the conversation that I didn’t feel his presence like usual. Satel was in his usual ‘adoring’ pose with an elbow on the table, his head resting against his hand, and a soft look on his face. Now that he was discovered, his smirk widened and his eyes darkened a little.

“Don’t stop talking on my account- I find this discussion a little promising,” he replied mischievously before he stood up and stalked over to me.

Somehow I was frozen (I stubbornly suspected falucite magicks), and couldn’t move as he stepped into my personal space. His face was soon hovering over mine as he pressed his thighs against me and pinned me to the sink.

“Lioa is right, you know,” the über hat man commented with a sensual grin. “Give up and surrender to me.”

I really did like his arrogance to a certain point, but there was something in his words that triggered a bout of anger. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but it was something he’d just said that was behind all my hesitations. I faltered for only a second when he leaned in closer for a kiss, but then I forced myself to focus and fight back.

Without really thinking, I grabbed the bowl from the sink and splashed all of the water within in his face. Since he was so close, much of the water had gotten on me too, but at least I had an apron on to protect most of my white blouse. At the very least, he wasn’t going to get a peep show out of this.

I thought he was going to get angry from my actions, but instead he seemed to expect it and had a smile on his face once it was over. He’d closed his eyes to protect them from the soap, but opened them again just as he began chuckling over what had happened. There was a long pause before he rested his hands on the edge of the sink on either side of me, ensuring that I couldn’t escape now.

After that, the rest of the world seemed to have faded until all I could see was him. It was getting hard for me to tell if we were having a genuine romantic moment, or if he’d used his illusions to help me forget that Lioa was there and likely watching everything. All I could do was stare into his eyes and remember to breathe.

“You’ll have to try harder than that to get rid of me, dearest,” he told me before he leaned down and placed a chaste kiss on my lips. My eyes automatically fell closed and I willingly tilted my chin up to meet him before I realized what I was doing. For some reason kissing him just felt like second nature to me.

We didn’t go further than that, nor did we dare open our mouths, lest we risk letting the soap reach our tongues. It was just a simple pressing of the lips and we just stood there savoring the moment. Somehow, my heart began to beat faster despite the innocent gesture- it seemed like just touching him for even a second always sent some kind of spark through me…

Suddenly he pressed closer against me, forcing me to tilt my head back more and my hands to come up and grip his frock coat. His wet strands of hair fell against my cheeks, leaving cold wet trails as they slid. I could feel the edge of the sink dig into my backside and I vaguely heard a splash followed by a warm feel running down my legs.

“Oh look at this mess!” Lioa’s angry voice rang out, shaking us both from our stupor. Satel was the one who pulled away first, appearing just as shocked as I felt before he glanced around to see what that matronly woman was talking about.

That warm feeling on my legs turned out to be water escaping from the sink and drenching me. The sinks were nothing more than two tin-like tubs that were elevated by four large and sturdy legs. They were under a crude waterspout system and had a hole on the bottom that connected it to a drain to let the water escape. It was obvious that it wasn’t a professionally done job, so it was no surprise that the metal of the tubs bent slightly against our weight.

Thanks to that, the dish water reached the edge and eventually spilled over… damn. I pushed Satel back to survey the whole damage and ended up glaring at the sink when it just ‘popped’ back into place with a muted echo.

Lioa had left for a second to retrieve a mop and then stormed back in with an annoyed look on her face. I was about to feel bad for everything until she shoved the wooden handle between Satel and I.

“I apologize for ruining your moment, but one of you must clean this up,” she insisted sternly. I knew the cleanliness of her kitchen was important to her, but wow- this was the first time I’d ever seen her actually angry.

I numbly reached for the mop when the blond man stopped me and shook his head. “Allow me.”

He then gathered the water on the floor with his magicks and guided the whip of dirty fluid down the drain of the other sink. Well, at least I wouldn’t have to clean it up the hard way. Once he was done with the floor, he turned his attention back to me.

“Hey!” I muttered indignantly as I was pulled against his chest again, the mop captured between us. I glared up at his charming grin as I felt his hands drift lower until they rested on my bottom.

“Now to dry you off some,” Satel announced, as if to excuse his obvious groping. I scowled at him- nobody would believe what he’s doing was actually innocent

To be fair, he was removing the water from my clothes, but he didn’t need to touch me to do so. I should’ve yelled at him when his fingers roamed the expanse of my backside, but I just let him do it- that light tingling simply distracted me too much to do anything about it.

Then, without warning, he splayed his hands on both cheeks and squeezed gently, causing me to arch my back and expose my neck to him. My rational thinking flew out the window as he took the unintended invitation and began nipping gently at my neck, just above the collar of my blouse.

It wasn’t until I heard the usual noise of Lioa cooking something in the background when I realized that she was in the room with us. I quickly pushed him away even though the chef was going about her business and giving us some margin of privacy. I wasn’t surprised to find myself completely dry, and figured it had likely been that way for quite some time. He was just taking advantage of the situation as usual…

I didn’t have the strength or the drive to push him that far from me, so he was still in my personal space. He smiled and leaned forward until his lips brushed my ear.

“I love you, ‘Tia-dear,” he murmured quietly before the tip of his tongue darted out to trace the outer shell of my ear. A shiver of pleasure and joy ran down my body at the contact and my eyes closed again involuntarily. When I opened them again, he was gone, and Lioa was glancing back at me with that damned knowing smirk again.

She didn’t say a word after the fact, for which I was grateful. It took me a good ten minutes before I was able to regain my senses and get back to work- it was ten minutes too long for me to recover from such a thing. Damn it, why was this getting so difficult?

********************

For the last few weeks, ever since that encounter in the kitchen, Satel had been attacking me with kisses, gifts, and quick dances to the point where I’d not only expect them, but would eagerly await our next encounter. I still couldn’t accept public affection very well, and I tried to discourage the gifts unless they were food, but there was a definite change in our relationship.

I was slowly accepting my life with him, and felt more at ease when he was in my presence… but even then I couldn’t say it was love. There was still something nagging in the back of my mind… it made me wary of most of his intentions, even when he’d long since proven that his feelings were genuine.

I couldn’t really identify it, but there was something in his personality that gave me pause. I was sure that if I could figure out what it was, then we could work past it and I could start to give in to my feelings. But it was really annoying trying to figure it out, considering he did it everyday. It wasn’t his arrogance, I truly did like that, especially since I knew he wasn’t serious about it. It also wasn’t his feelings for me that would set me off- I knew he couldn’t help it.

And I didn’t think I was holding a grudge with him anymore either- while he wasn’t exactly repentant for what he’d done to acquire me, he wasn’t a tyrant or anything. He actually reminded me of an affectionate puppy, most days. But he understood full well that I wasn’t happy, and so constantly tried to work it out with me for both our benefits. He even left open that last, unwanted option- that I could leave if I really so chose.

Unfortunately, it was too good to last. The positive trend our relationship was taking soon hit a hitch not long after I began noticing red splotches just under my hairline. Most of my hair was covering it to where it didn’t garner attention, and I honestly didn’t care about my appearance in terms of beauty (though I did like to look clean and presentable), but seeing them appear was a little alarming. They shouldn’t be showing up unless there was something wrong with me. Could I perhaps have been exposed to something?

I didn’t want to cause a stir, so I tried to hide it and hoped it went away on its own. I felt fine, so I wanted to assume it was just some minor skin irritation. Still, I made sure Satel didn’t get close enough to see, just to be on the safe side. I didn’t even bring it up to Cegil and Lioa.

But I was wrong. They didn’t go away- they rapidly got worse. The splotches grew in size and even started to spread to other areas of my body. Curiously, they seemed to start at my wrists and ankles before spreading, while the ones on my forehead traveled downwards towards my chest, missing my face… for now. This happened within the matter of days, and by the end of the week, I was starting to feel some discomfort. The red areas were beginning itch, and it took a lot of willpower for me not to scratch.

I couldn’t remember where I’d heard this, but I was sure that scratching would make it worse. I still didn’t want to alert anyone either, even though I was beginning to panic a little. I figured that with my luck, it was still something that would go away on its own and that I would only make a fool of myself if I brought attention to it.

It wasn’t that hard to hide most of them since my clothes covered a lot, though I had to explain off my hands and neck with allergy excuses. Apparently falucite could be allergic to things too, otherwise Cegil and Satel wouldn’t have believed me. Eventually, as it kept getting worse and worse, I convinced myself that it was really just an allergy- with the changes that came to my body through the mating, I was immune to all human diseases.

But it was very tricky hiding all of this from Satel, considering we shared a bedchamber together. In the morning, I usually waited for him to head to the bathroom and rushed to get my clothes on while he was getting ready for the day. And at night, I’d rush into the bathroom and change in there to go to bed. Unfortunately, the latter action was what made Satel initially suspicious of me.

Even though I still discouraged anything too intimate between us, he still liked to watch me get dressed for bed. Since he’d already seen me naked before, I didn’t see a point in trying to hide my body and allowed it, so long as watching was all he did. But when I started leaving the room for it, of course he was going to notice something amiss- and my excuses could only go so far to pacify him.

So when I woke up that morning to him already awake and staring down at me intently, I knew that my secret wasn’t going to survive for much longer. Satel was lounging on his side beside me with his head propped up by his arm and a cool look that was almost Cegil-like. Ordinarily I’d be the first to awaken with him still dozing on top of me.

It was easy to tell that he’d been awake for quite some time because my body had rolled over to face him in an unconscious attempt to share his warmth. My nose had been pressed into his bare chest and my arms were wrapped around his waist. Not that I’d know how quickly I would do such a thing, but I would imagine my sleeping body wouldn’t register his withdraw immediately.

My eyes shyly glanced up to his as I slowly let go of him and retreated back to what was deemed my side of the bed. I subtly made sure the covers were firmly up to my neck so that he didn’t see anything incriminating before I let out a hesitant greeting.

“Good morning…”

“Morning, my lovely mate,” he purred back, his face still remaining eerily impassive. Oh that can’t be good…

I just stared back at him, waiting for him to say something- or at least go to the bathroom so I could go put on my clothes for the day. But he chose to remain where he was, his eyes unwavering and his free hand gently rubbing circles on my belly under the covers. It was a tad uncomfortable really, his fingers causing my splotchy skin to burn, but I showed none of my discomfort, because while his hand was displaying some warm intimacy, his expression wasn’t so friendly, and that bothered me.

What exactly was his problem, and what was he waiting for?

“Don’t you need to get ready?” I asked him, hating how timid I sounded just then.

“Maybe, but don’t you need to get up for your lessons?” he countered in an even tone.

I narrowed my eyes at him as I realized his intent- he wanted me out of the bed first. He must’ve figured out something and wanted me to reveal myself somehow- if not by willingly telling him, then by letting him see how bad my skin had gotten. We stayed like this for a good five minutes, the only movement between us was the rise and fall of our chests and his gently roaming hand.

“Fine,” he muttered as he gave up and rolled out of bed. I let out a sigh of relief as he strode around the bed and headed straight for the bathroom. I wasn’t sure what made him relent, but I was glad that he did- couldn’t for the life of me think up an excuse of why he had to get out first.

I waited for the sound of the faucet running before I felt that it was safe for me to get out of bed. I quietly ran toward the wardrobe to retrieve my clothes, being careful not to alert Satel from his routine. I grabbed the first blouse, skirt, and trousers I could find, not caring if they matched, and tossed them on the end of the bed before I searched the drawers for clean underwear.

I took one more glance at the doorway that led to the bathroom and checked to make sure the water was still running before I quickly unbuttoned the black pajama top and tossed it over to the bed. Ever since that day when Satel caught me sleeping in his night shirt, he decided that from then on we’d share the one set- he’d wear the pants and I’d wear the top.

His shirt was oversized for my frame and the hem easily came to my mid thigh while the sleeves extended past my hands. Even when buttoned all the way up, the neckline plunged low to my mid chest, but covered my breasts, and my legs were very exposed. Considering that I didn’t wear anything underneath, it was a little risqué to be sleeping beside him when he made it quite clear that he wanted to mate with me again.

I managed to put on my pettipants and had my arms through the holes of my camisole when my limbs were suddenly paralyzed. A second later I realized that the water had stopped running. Though my arms and legs were unresponsive, Satel left my neck and head alone so that I could glance over to the doorway.

He stood there in his shirtless glory, leaning against the doorframe with his arms crossed and his expression still neutral, though his eyes had more of a dangerous sheen to them. His hair was still down, and there were strands of his platinum blond hair flowing over his shoulders, making him look rather… handsome. I wasn’t sure why, but I felt a rush of warmth at seeing him like that.

But the situation came crashing down on me when he pushed away and began stalking towards me. Either he had finished cleaning up in record time, or he had been setting me up for a trap. Somehow I was betting on the latter. He casually circled around me, eyes roving up and down my body until he stopped before me and yanked my camisole from my arms.

“Hey!” I protested hotly when he also pulled down my lower underwear, leaving me completely nude.

He wasn’t one bit apologetic as he examined every inch of my red blotchy skin, which was almost covering my entire body, save for my face and groin area. In some of the areas where the reddening first began, some itchy purplish bumps were forming. I gritted my teeth as his fingers glided up my arms and traced my collar bone to feel my skin.

I almost winced when his mouth thinned into a line and his brow furrowed in what one could identify as disgust. What? Was I displeasing to him now that I wasn’t so pretty?

…Though I didn’t care about my appearance all that much, that thought did hurt.

“Do you take me for some idiot?” Satel inquired suddenly in quiet anger. I opened my mouth to reply, but then he shook his head sharply and hissed, “Don’t answer that.”

…Apparently he had heard me call him an idiot a few times before. I almost wanted to grin at that, but his attitude actually had me too worried to jest.

I watched as he grabbed my wrist and held my hand up for me to see.

“This is no mere ‘allergy’, ‘Tia-dear. I’ve been watching you very carefully and I know you’re not feeling ‘fine’ as you insist.”

Before I knew it, he yanked on my arm so that I would fall against him. I almost moaned at the feel of our bare skin touching, but the conversation and the fact that the red patches where we touched were starting to burn took away the pleasure. Any thoughts that he would reject me ended when he brushed back my hair and gently ran his lips along my cheek and ear before he guided my head to rest on his chest, my nose tucked against the base of his neck. Disfigured as I was, he’d still hold me in a lover’s embrace.

It disturbed me how cool his skin felt against mine. Usually he was always warm to me. I hoped that I wasn’t starting to suffer from a fever.

“You’re not as energetic as you used to be, and you’ve been getting tired far too quickly. You think I haven’t noticed how your skin is changing? You think I can’t smell the sickness on you? I shouldn’t have let this gone on for this long- I hate that you’re not feeling well, and that you’re not letting me take care of you as I should!” he growled lowly, his tone showing me just how upset he was. Hmph- I didn’t know that sickness had a smell, though it didn’t surprise me that a falucite could detect it with their sensitive noses.

“If it’s any consolation, I really did think this is an allergy- I have no idea what else it could be,” I muttered, not expecting him to be that worried over me. I hadn’t known that he would be so passionate about my care. I felt an unusual need to console him. Perhaps I really was ill then… or maybe I just felt some guilt that I was putting him through this.

I could hear him let out a sigh before his muscles relaxed against me. It seemed that I managed to pacify his ire.

“I’m sorry if I seemed upset with you, dearest, because I’m not,” he admitted after a rush of breath cooled my face. “I’m just concerned because you shouldn’t be getting sick at all- at least not with human diseases.”

“What if it’s a falucite one? Can you get sick?” I asked, a little curious about the physiology of his kind.

“Yes, but mostly during early falciehood when our immune systems are still developing. There are a few adult diseases as well, but they’re very severe and life-threatening,” he informed me before he paused and added, “But you can’t possibly have contracted any of those and still be standing today.”

“Could I still get a severe human disease?” I inquired, wanting to throw all ideas out there, hoping it wasn’t as bad as I thought.

The blond man paused to think about it. “By all rights you’re still human, so I suppose it’s possible- but that would mean you somehow contracted something very deadly to ordinary humans. Where would you have gotten it and from whom? You’ve been here for nearly two months.”

Who’s to say where and when I’ve contracted it- weren’t there some illnesses that could thrive in a body for years and not manifest until later? However, I wasn’t the only human in the homestead- Lioa appeared healthy, but I’ve been in contact with some of the other servants, too. Any of them could’ve passed something onto me… but if it was something really strong and terrible, wouldn’t they be unable to work and separated from the rest of the humans?

I hadn’t realized I was shivering until Satel made a noise and began leading me to the wardrobe. If I had a fever, then it wasn’t any surprise that I was cold- being exposed also wasn’t helping. The blond man gave me an appraising look before he pulled out some long white and long-sleeved dress and pulled it over my head. I struggled for a moment in order to arrange my arms through the proper holes and soon discovered that I was in a nightgown.

“There, that should keep you warm and comfortable,” he said as he smoothed the soft material over my curves.

“I’m not going out there in this- I need to get dressed,” I argued as I slipped out of his arms and headed for the clothes I had thrown on the end of the bed.

“You’re not going anywhere- you’re staying in bed today. Maybe some extra rest will be good for you,” he announced before he bent down to sweep me off my feet.

“Hey!” I shouted once I got over the jarring sensation of being off the ground. Even though his arms were firmly supporting my back and under my knees, I still felt the need to wrap my arms around his neck for leverage.

Satel used his magicks to move the thick blankets back down before he carefully jumped onto the queen-sized bed and ‘walked’ to the center on his knees. He then lowered me down and tucked me in once I was comfortable. I wasn’t sure if it was the fever or embarrassment, but my face was hot by the time he was done.

“I don’t want to stay here all day. I’ll be fine,” I insisted, not willing to waste my day doing nothing. I wasn’t ready to admit defeat to some illness that came out of nowhere.

“I don’t want to take chances. Besides, while I don’t know as much as Didra, I heard that when you start developing a fever, you become contagious. If you have a human disease, then you don’t want to get the others sick.”

“But I-”

“You don’t want Lioa to catch whatever you have, do you?” he interrupted me before I could fully protest.

“Noooo,” I muttered in defeat as I let my head sink further into the pillows. But soon a horrible thought came to me. “But what if she already caught it?”

Whatever was in me, it took time before it got this bad. Maybe this was the first day I had a fever, but what if she was also exposed to the same thing I was? Satel’s eyes darkened as he thought deeply about it with a grim expression.

“I’m going to finish getting dressed and then I’ll bring this to Didra’s attention. Knowing her, she’ll gather all the humans in the homestead and test them for contamination. …But I think Lioa is fine- if she has what your modified body is fighting, then she’d be dead already, I think,” he replied, bringing a good point. If I supposedly have the immune system of a falucite, then only deadly pathogens should breach it.

Upon seeing that I wasn’t going to fight anymore, Satel began backing away so he could get down. Before I could stop myself, my hand shot out and gripped his wrist to stop him, my action surprising both of us. For some reason, I didn’t want him to leave- perhaps because I didn’t want to spend time in the quiet room all alone. With there being no doors for me to get out, I didn’t want to be trapped here should I have some sort of an emergency.

I must’ve been making some desperate face, because he smiled warmly at me before he returned to my side. He then let one of his hands caress my face and push back my bangs in a soothing manner.

“Don’t worry my sirsa. I just need to inform Didra of your condition, and then I’ll cancel my missions with the elders so I can watch over you. Just rest for now, and I’ll return within the hour with something to eat,” he promised me before he lowered his head and brushed his lips softly across mine.

I was a little stunned that he’d done that, considering that I might have something falucite were susceptible to. He should be worried about catching whatever I had, rather than comfort me like this. I didn’t think I’d ever seen him act like this before- he was a lot humbler than normal, and he really showed how much he genuinely cared about me.

Though, it wasn’t as if he gave me the impression that he didn’t care- it’s just that the playful comments he’d make made his concern seem less genuine, and more like he was just making fun of me for his amusement.

Actually, no- I had seen this side of him once before. It was after we’d mated and I regressed into a sort of depression. He was as gentle and supporting as he was now, trying to cheer me up and make me feel better. Since this behavior wasn’t so forthcoming, I’d almost forgotten about it.

For some reason, knowing that he had the capacity to act this way made me feel…happy? It wasn’t so much that I wanted him to always be this way, but the knowledge that he could made it easier for me to understand his real intentions. There was no posturing in his actions this time- what I was seeing was real.

“Get some sleep,” he ordered softly before kissing me again, this time on the forehead. He missed the smile that was on my face as he walked back to the bathroom. Maybe it was the fever making me delirious, but I was starting to feel protected and loved in his presence. It was like how I felt when I traveled with Cegil… though I never was as intimate with him.

I listened to the sounds of water start up again, and eventually splashing and brushing noises as he cleaned his teeth. Even though I didn’t think I was tired, I nodded off to the ambient noises and eventually settled into deep sleep.

********************

I wasn’t sure how long I was out, but when my eyes opened again I was disoriented and alone. The nap was supposed to help me feel better, but somehow I was worse off than before. I felt a light pain at the top of my forehead, but it wasn’t a headache. I placed a hand over my eyes as I let out a groan. My fingers came into contact with some of the bumps near my hair and I shot up into a sitting position as a sharp pain emitted from them.

When the pain subsided, I glanced at my hand to see if I somehow cut myself, but I didn’t see any blood. …Just what was going on?

“…Satel?” I called out weakly, my voice still groggy from sleep. Only silence met my ears.

I felt weak, and my arms quickly started shaking as I supported the upper half of my body. I also felt hotter than ever, but I wasn’t sure if that was from the fever or from the thick layers of blankets and the nightgown I was wearing. Perhaps both. Though I knew Satel didn’t want me out of bed, I still crawled out with the intent to use the bathroom. I fully intended to come back, so I figured he couldn’t fault me for it if he found me up and about.

Almost instantly I felt a chill once I was freed of the covers, but I couldn’t really focus on that- I was too busy trying not to fall. Even my legs were surprisingly weak, and I felt a little dizzy as I tried to make my way to the adjacent room.

I was determined to get to my destination and used the wall to help me get there. Once I passed the doorway, I stumbled over to the basin and turned the switch to summon cold water. I shoved my hands under the stream, almost jerking back at the frigidness of it, and was about to splash it on my hot skin.

But I stopped when I caught sight of my reflection in the hanging mirror. It seemed that the illness had taken over my face after all- instead of splotches, I had little red bumps dotting my nose, cheeks, and jaw line. Between the tiny boils was irritated red skin, and the only places that seemed to have not been affected were my lips and eyelids. Hell, it was so bad that I couldn’t see my freckles anymore.

I felt that a normal reaction to seeing this would be to gasp and take a closer look, but I only blinked at my reflection. Suddenly it was getting very hard to stand, and I placed most of my weight against the basin to keep me upright. My eyes soon became half-lidded as I fought against sleep, though I didn’t feel tired.

“…‘Tia? Are you okay?”

I weakly turned my head towards the voice and found my mate at the opening. When did he get here?

“Satel…” I managed to mutter, just as my legs buckled and my body collapsed to the ground.

I was able to see his eyes widen as he rushed over to me, my name on his lips. I never heard him yell like that before- it was like he was afraid. I barely managed to cling to the sink, stopping my head from hitting the floor, but my fingers slipped and I felt gravity pull me down.

I could barely feel his arms wrap around me. My vision had fled – or perhaps my eyes were closed? – and it was all I could do to slump against his shaking form. I tried to grab onto him, desperately trying to imply I needed help, but my arm wouldn’t respond. My silent plea went unanswered.

The last thing I remember is falling back into slumber, my name ringing in my ears.

To the Next Chapter

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s