„Who are you to him? You haven’t provided him sons!“
Tamiel watched his lover’s outbreak with anger and prepared to cut in if needed, but held back, interested how his wife would come out of this insult. This was not what he wanted to walk on, when he came home from a hunt. She was aware what an insult like that meant and he needed to see her reaction. His world was different and she had to cope with their ways if they wanted the alliance to survive. Symbolic as it was, this didn’t make the participant’s lives easier.
Susan had paled considerably, but that was about all the reaction she coached out of her. Her eyes flickered in light, but his kind wasn’t familiar with human physiology well enough to understand the pain she reflected.
“I shall give him a son when he sees fit.”
He liked her answer.
“Your pup shall be cared for.” She closed the subject, smiled bravely to the men accompanying the woman and turned enough to see Tamiel standing only feet away.
Her dress rustled in the dry leaves covering the road. Her smile remained friendly, but when she knew she couldn’t be seen by the group standing outside, her eyes swelled with held back tears and her long fingers twisted into fists while she raised the skirt to step over rocks.
She bumped into him, but didn’t apologize like she used to do. Instead she continued on her track and walked with her head high.
He didn’t stay with the pregnant woman on the town square, but followed Susan’s stiff figure.
This had to stop. The issue with her position as his partner would not be so on knives if he would share her bed. And everybody around then knew it was that bad, females often trying to push her aside by forging themselves in his bed.
Susan wasn’t against him seeking lovers. He had called it repulsive that she wasn’t against it as he knew in most cases humans were monogamous and therefore it seemed like she was stepping over her race’s boundaries. She did say if it was his pleasing then she would also seek lovers to suit Catali tradition. He found out few months later that she was boasting mostly. There were no one sneaking out from her bedroom in the mornings and soon, after learning that truth, he found no fun in searching other females anymore.
It began on the second night with Dusana, after they had returned from the ceremony. He could sense her stiff figure behind the door, shocked to tears. She didn’t confront him for this the next morning, but the servant was out of the house the same night, without anything she had come after. It surprised him. It didn’t go down so well though, instead she started doing these stupid rounds every night, showing clearly that there was no trust between them from that night on, and that she cared for him more than she would ever allow herself to show. He continued with finding lovers, but this was getting out of hand. He didn’t need any of his eager lovers confronting her while he was out for hunts.
There was more than one way to show her superiority of other women trying to take over her place. All she had to do was take one of them out. He had seen her practice, her physics would be enough to take one down should they provoke her enough. However, her patience in these matters proved to be of iron and instead she would keep cleaning her house of any suspicious wannabe wives.
He watched her raise her blue skirt higher and walk over their porch with pointed steps echoing back from the front. She left the door open and rushed the servant away, but by the time he got in and had given away his game and weapons, he heard another door slam.
He told the servant to go for tonight, turned around and went.
Susan went straight in bed. She could still hear their laughing and that drove her crazy as she would gladly had taken all their faces and turned them inside out. But as the slut was bearing his kid now and her entire family would swear on revenge, there would be no way for her to come out of it clean.
Tears formed long trays on her face. She knew it would happen. She’d be unhappy, when she came with him, allowing herself to be sacrificed for the human kind. How stupid it sounded now!
That never happened in fairy tales – the prince was always to protect the ladies, not stand aside and laugh with the punch and there was little she could do about it as both he and she had agreed this was nothing more than formal union.
This didn’t stop her forming respect to Tamiel. He was honest and fair. If anything else. Now actually living among the Catali showed it was common for one to have several lovers or established wives, therefore he did nothing wrong. Still, it was hard for her to take after expecting he’d ignore the tradition.
“Right!” She burst laughed, wrinkling the front of her dress, trying to stop the throbbing under her skin. She sighed, drying her tears. “Who am I kidding? It was never meant as one-on-one. And now I know. The hard way…” She dragged in her breath. “That’s what you get when you marry in honor and get a scum.”
Even if you like the scum.
She felt too sad to continue, especially that there was no one to listen. By now even the servants had returned to their families. She took off, starting her every evenings ritual – going through every room in this house to make sure some young girl hadn’t staid put somewhere to sneak in his bed. She could survive it when he did it outside the home. But after nearly walking in on them once, she made sure it didn’t happen again. Her stomach reacted each time she remembered her second night here, betraying herself weeping behind the door, listening them cuddling, but not interfering because of ghastly formality. Instead she began with the ritual and made sure every slut knew, what would happen to an one of them trying to stay for the night as she would then make their lives as miserable as she could before sending them away for good, mentally dragging them through every road in the village and making sure their scream went through every household they’d pass.
The house was empty. For tonight.
She passed his bedroom and glimpsed in. There was no one here and she took a second longer to go in and sat on the big bed covered with smooth fabric.
“Who am I kidding…”
He came back late, rushing in her bedroom in hope to get her off guard and make her obey their needs. But she wasn’t there. She had fallen asleep. Though not in hers, but in his bedroom, covered up with his blanket.
He watched her sleeping body from the door, wondering, why she’d gone there instead of her own bedroom and thought first to let her sleep on.
Perfect opportunity, he decided suddenly, and snuck in, removing his weapons and laying them down on the floor. The metal buckle landed heavier than he wanted. The sound was loud enough to wake her up and instead of cursing, he straightened.
“You’re back?” She gasped as she looked around. “I fell asleep… Oh, I’m sorry, I’ll leave right…”
“No, stay.” He opened the buckles of his armor and it fell on the floor.
“W-what?” It was more like a sigh let out with her breath than a question.
“I want you to stay here.” He climbed on the bed and lay down beside her. “Right where you are.” He closed his eyes. There was no way he would make his way to her that night, she was too shocked from the question already to have him take any further step.
She frowned, confused. She feared to misunderstand his request. She looked at the man next to her and wondered if he was real? There were so many times he would come home without giving her a second look and now he asked her to stay? She had to make sure it wasn’t some joke and reached out her hand to touch him. Just slightly, brushing his muscles before moving on towards his chest.
Her sudden move was surprising, her hand studying him. He kept his eyes shot, encouraging her to continue and hoping it wouldn’t scare her off. It was interesting, where it would lead and it felt good, feeling her touch him voluntarily.
She smiled warmly – him not moving had to mean he was going to stay tonight. She had wondered how it would feel. She remember how he laid by her side when she couldn’t make herself calm down after their initial meeting in her home, even when there was little she could actually recall from that evening. Since then she felt the gap left in her after waking up while he was about to leave, a cold, dark hole that screamed to be filled.
She continued with following the undershirt web on his chest with her fingers, leading her hand higher and higher, closer to his throat. His chest rose more often now, but he kept his eyes closed. Susan liked it. She lead her hand down again, smoothing her way down, when a sudden noise from the side room shook them both up and made her retreat her hand to cover herself with the sheet she had let to fall down.
“What was that?” she asked, but he was already up and tore the door open to reveal a young servant girl with obvious attentions of seducing him. That was very ill timed surprise and very unwanted.
“Oh!” She couldn’t believe it – there was no one there just a moment ago and now that little girl! She crashed her body back on the bed and covered her face for a second to hide the anger that started to rise. Or was it mere disbelief?
She tossed the cover aside and glared at the girl. How old could she be? A teen? He is chased after by teens now? I will not go through this again nevertheless, she promised herself, not this time.
“I can give you what she has forbidden you…” she started, pushing herself in a very seductive pose.
“What?” he exchaled.
Not only did the servant speak her language, with obvious hint of her to understand her competition, but having so little respect to her mistress was unheard of. Her eyes flickered as she realized she was not wanted here at all, but she tried to hide it for a while, only for a second, before she noticed that Susan was in much more comfortable pose than she had expected.
“I am here with my mate and you dare to intervene our privacy?!?” his voice lowered with every word till it reminded Susan more of a hiss of thunder than a voice. She couldn’t understand any of what he said, but it didn’t sound good to the girl.
Another wrong word from that bathetic creature and she was ready to kill her. Her eyes were as mad as her master’s and showed no mercy or being vulnerable as she would expect from a human lady.
She rose quietly, searching something sharp from the floor next to bed.
“But she’s leaving already…” the servant girl babbled trying to turn his anger at his woman, but that proved to be a mistake, when Susan’s white slender hand revealed a dagger with obvious intentions of pushing it into her brindled flesh.
Leaving? He turned his head, surprised for a moment, ready to go after her to explain, but seeing his dagger in her hand and her showing no intensions of going made him only angrier at the intruder, whose pathetic outlook was mere mirror of her previous stamina. He prepared to give her lesson of her life, when a slender fingers ran ice over his spine and halted his move.
“I have other plans…” she whispered softly with utmost dislike in her voice, gaze fixed on the trembling figure in front of her.
He took a step back. This was not the time to get involved and stand between her and her revenge. But she did nothing, only played with the dagger in her hand.
The girl felt courage growing, when she didn’t go at her immediately and jolted at her, teeth revealed. Susan’s eyes flickered and the dagger dig in servant’s right shoulder, white hand pushing it deeper, getting covered with green blood oozing from her wound.
She removed the dagger slowly, glassy eyes fixed at the girl for a moment with sadness she couldn’t explain – she suddenly felt sorry for her wishing her mother had done better job raising her. Suddenly she removed the brooch holding the silk shall that pinched on her shoulders and pushed it hard against the servant’s wound before forcing the girl place her other hand against it so it wouldn’t bleed.
“Go.” She whispered pushing the girl out.
She watched her tumble down the stairs and listen the following silence long after she was gone. Her eyes didn’t sparkle with victory. Instead she kept gazing at the floor. And what was her to win? Another girl coming and hiding in there so her dear husband could take her? She wasn’t the wife to give it to him that easily.
She flinched when she felt Tamiel’s hand on her shoulder before she was raised from the floor. She expected to land on somewhere soon, but he didn’t let her go, only hold her close on his chest and turned her over so she would face his dark eyes.
She wanted to scold him, but couldn’t get words out before the grin from his face faltered when the knife shined against the small light in the corner. “The least you could do is to keep them away from our house.”
“If you prove your right over me, they will stop coming.” He whispered to her, encouraging her, but that worked totally opposite as the next he felt was raw angry slap that really hurt and made him put her down.
“Why should I stop them? You have given me nothing to show you deserve my attention!” she yelled and through the dagger deep in the hard wooden floor. “You only irritate me, bring that scum in here and think that makes me want you more? Who do you think you are?” She tore the knife out again as it there irritated her more than the reason why she had sent it in the wood in the first place.
“I am the leader of the best hunters in the clan you were brought to be part of!”
“So what?” She shrugged. “That doesn’t justify your actions – even your father has more respect to his partners than you have ever given to me. He never has more than one at a time, but you have three of them and others taking in line…” Her voice faded into whisper. She was losing this battle and losing strength to even breathe. She sat on the corner of the bed. “And I’m so tired of this…”
He growled and turned to the light. Others ran from him. They would get what they wanted and go. But she stayed, put up with his moods and bearing with him, when he recovered from his last wound before urging him to go on the next hunt.
“Do you care enough of me to be my only one?” He swayed, enough to see her reaction.
She glanced at him. Was this a trick question? But he didn’t sound his usual arrogant way. Still, it made her cautious.
“If I do, would I be?”
He stood before her and began without thinking it through. “You have fought with me and proved yourself and you have wisdom I haven’t encountered with anyone at your age so far. True, you are not skilled when it comes in battle. Also you don’t know much of our ways, but I can’t hold it against you as you are learning.” He paused and she lowered her eyes, visibly waiting negative answer. He realized he was losing her again if he didn’t act fast and his little speech still didn’t seem to convince her, he continued. “You don’t run after me, but wait for me to come…” He was almost whispering now. “Yes.”
She didn’t raise her head, but the way her body started to shake, he knew she was touched by his answer and partly not believing it. She opened her lips, but only to take a rapid breath.
Her shaking was making him more nervous than on his first hunt. He waited her to react by now, but she didn’t, swinging her body front and back and hugging herself like crazy. She’s thinking. That’s good, right?
Finally she rose. She lifted her free hand and traced his mesh on his chest, but didn’t look up. That was before she shook her head in disbelief and left without Tamiel doing anything to stop her.
“You don’t believe me?” he asked quietly before she got to the door, voice cracking from the blood rush.
“I thought at least you would be honest to me…” she voiced her answer, though every muscle in her neck was against it, pushing up tears she had no intentions of crying. “I never thought…” her lips closed as they refused to talk.
Thought what? He was confused – he was telling the truth. How could she even think otherwise?
She was gone and showed no intentions of returning. He couldn’t leave it this way and leave her such impression, even as if it was false. It was true – he hadn’t given her any reason to believe she was more to him than mere servant. At the same time, he had given her no reason to believe he was a liar. There had always been only truth between them, even when it hurt. She was the one, who should be called liar, hiding her true feelings like that!
“Now look here…” he stormed in her room, but his voice stuck in his throat – her bed was messed up and bloody. Red blood. There was no trace of rustle or anything other, but there was a trail of blood leading on the balcony.
“Susan?” He went by the trail until he saw two very shaky feet behind the dark curtains.
“Go away!!” she screamed and the feet disappeared under her brown gown.
“Susan?” he reached his hand out to pull the curtain away.
“I said – go away.” Her voice was weaker now and meant nothing of what she said.
He pulled the curtain away and stood there for a moment in silence. Her hands were soaked in blood up to her elbows and so was her face, probably from sweeping the tears with bloody hands.
“What did you do?” he demanded, anger underlining the horror his voice carried.
“I don’t know…” she sounded really funny, like upset little child and cried. “I still had your knife…” she smiled like it was funny, before she raised her elbow to reveal it in her left side. She gulped. “You know…” her voice grew weaker. “ I didn’t think it would hurt this much…”
He growled lower. “Stupid human woman! Why did you do that for?!”
“Take the easy way out, my aunt said…” Strong shiver ran through her. “If even he lies to you,” she gulped, “take the easy way out, she said…”
He froze. He couldn’t even begin to comprehend the logic behind it.
“Easy way out? She told you to take the easy way out? You have stood up to me, to my clan, giving them no reason to treat you with nothing but respect! You have given up yourself to be on my side and now you take an easy way out? Why do you take human woman’s word of advice in a matter, where she has no true knowledge? You are the strongest female I have seen and now you go and do something that stupid? How pathetic! A human!”
Her attention was disappearing with her eyes fluttering shut before her body started shaking violently. He picked her up from the cold stone floor and took her back to her bed, pushing the bloody sheets away first.
“But you lie to me now… I can’t bear if you too lie to me…” He stopped, her still in his hands and stared in her closing eyes. “If you lie to me, who else can I trust…”
Her last words were more like air that left her lips, but to him they were as sharp as a knife. He wanted to tell her that he had never lied to her, but he knew she wouldn’t had heard it or understood it anyway. Her body had stopped shaking and he flinched – she was still bleeding and needed instant care or his first true evening he’d spent with his wife might be the shortest one he ever had.
She woke up early in the morning. At first she thought she had just fallen asleep, but all seemed so fuzzy and a sudden try to move her hand ended with extreme pain in her side. That brought yesterday’s drama back in her mind and she bit in her lower lip not to make any sound as she was sure there were several around her, who waited her to come conscious.
“The pain would be easier to tolerate if you stopped fidgeting.” He heard a low voice from the dark.
She rested the hand back on the bed and turned her attention on the voice, but couldn’t get her eyes focus.
“You are one strange human, but nothing more than just a human.” He accused, or acknowledging the fact. It didn’t matter really as it hurt nevertheless. “I don’t lie to you, stupid human, nor did I lie to you earlier.”
She couldn’t help the tears that rose to her eyes, pressing their way out. She cupped her mouth not to make any sound as she was dissolved in tears. She gulped.
The shadow in the corner growled, before she realized it came from far closer than she had expected and a strong robust hand wiped her tears away while the angry voice sighed. “That takes you nowhere and you need your fluid, so stop crying.”
The bed shook a bit sd he laid down next to her, so she could feel the warmth that radiated from his body. He laid still, front turned to her, while she was still gulping hard, trying to end the tears, but it proved to be much harder than she expected. His palm rose and brushed them away again.
She shoot her hand out to catch his, before it disappeared back in the darkness, but missed it just a second, so she reached it on her left, barring the pain on that side, where she hoped to find him and she encountered calmly breathing chest muscles.
“You tare the stitches out if you continue like this.” He scolded and bushed her hand back to her side. “I’m not going anywhere, you like it or not.” He heard her chuckle, but continued, ignoring it, “I might have to stitch it again and this time I’m keeping you awake.”
He couldn’t make himself as cold as he would have liked. He was too clad she’d woken. Watching her lifeless body earlier had made him go through all the options that would rise when she really died and he didn’t think he would have liked any of them. Perhaps a year ago he would have thought differently, that seemed far now, but now the laughing he heard just seconds ago warmed his heart more than she could imagine or he knew how to express.
He shifted closer to her, enough to be against her skin, but far enough to give her wounded side space and felt her hand grab for his mesh, which wasn’t there and she sighed disappointedly, like not realizing it. He caught her hand and supported it against his chest, letting out a silent grunt to coerce her to lay quiet.
She didn’t need that reminder though as her hand relaxed right when it touched the solid surface. She tried to stay wake, he heard it from how she breathed, but it was getting harder now. Not because of the wound though, that proved to be nothing more than flesh wound, but duo the anesthetic he had injected her earlier to help her relax.
He watched her head fall on side, closed eyes looking turned to him. He pushed her hair away from her face, feeling the cold sweat. There was nothing more he could do now, but he was glad nevertheless.