Friday, November 15, 2013

Chapter 1
I awake to the feel of Xandra’s lips against mine.  The day is off to a great start.  Pulling her closer, I find myself very much awake now.  I turn her gentle kisses into fiery ones.  I groan deeply as she wraps her legs around me, pulling me closer.  A little too closely considering both of us are naked.
Holy hell, what are we doing?  With the very last of my self-control, I pull out of her arms and roll onto my back.  My body is protesting in earnest.  My eyes are closed because if I look at her right now, I know I will end up right back where I was.  After a long minute, I finally open one eye and look at her face.  Just her face, nothing lower.  “As much as I appreciate waking up to your gorgeous, naked body, you are cruelly testing my will power.”
Puzzled, she asks, “What do you mean?  You don’t want to make love to me again?”
Now I am the one puzzled.  “Again?  Xandra, what are you talking about?”  Then it hits me.  I know what happened and I chuckle.  I roll onto my side, careful not to get too close for fear my self-control will go out the window, but so we are face to face.  I push a strand of hair from her cheek and then caress it lightly with my thumb.  “You had a dream that we made love, right?  I am assuming that is how we both ended up naked.”
Indignant and embarrassed, she pulls away from me.  In an effort to make her feel better, I admit to my own lusty dreams.  “I have those dreams pretty much every night.  I know how powerful they are.  I often wake up after them and want nothing more than to remove every bit of clothing from you.  Then, make love to you for hours.  But, we agreed to wait.  At least until your parents are on board with the whole idea.”
Still looking confused, she says, “Kallen, we have to get married.  We made love.”
I cannot help but laugh again.  “Xandra, it was just a dream.  I wish it was true, though.”  More than anything else in the world.  I am aching for her.
To my surprise, she is suddenly angry with me.  She sits up and pulls the sheet around her.  “Why are you acting like this?  Was it that bad that you want to pretend it never happened?” 
Oh god, I think she is going to cry.  She really believes it happened.  That must have been one hell of a dream.  Sitting up as well, I reach out to touch her but she shies away from me.  “Xandra, are you okay?”
I get the universal ‘I am mad as hell but am not going to admit it’ response.  “I’m fine,” she says, then looks away. 
The tear that streams down her cheek tells a different story.  Putting my hand under her chin, I gently pull her face in my direction again.  “I can assure you that when we do make love, it will be the most amazing thing that has ever happened to me.  I would never want to forget a moment of it.”
Instead of feeling better, more tears stream down her cheeks.  “Then I don’t understand why you’re acting like nothing happened.”
Is she under a spell?  Possessed?  Maybe I should get Alita to make sure there is not any black magic at work here.  Worried, I say, “Xandra, I hate to see you upset.  I love you, and I want to make love to you so badly.  But it was just a dream.  A wonderful dream that fills my heart with pleasure that you want to be with me as much as I want to be with you.”
She considers that for a moment.  Emotions wash over her face too quickly for me to keep up.  Perhaps she is waking up more and realizes I speak the truth.  I have to admit a terrible part of me would like to stop trying to convince her and just go with it.  That would make me quite a bastard, though. 
She stares at me as if in a daze for several heartbeats and then lies back down with a groan.  “Oh, no.  This is all my fault,” she says, her eyes filling once again with tears.   She closes them as if to stop the flow. 
There is something wrong here, something I am missing.  Brow creased, I ask, “What is your fault?”
A dark rush of color floods into her cheeks and she opens her eyes again.  “I know why you don’t remember.”
Are we back to this?  “Xandra, I sincerely doubt that I would forget about making love to you.”
“You would if the Angel who controls the collective conscience and recorded history decided not to write it down.”
Yes, there is definitely something wrong.  I suspect my day is about to take a turn for the worse.  “Why would said Angel not want it recorded?  And how would you know that.”  Anger is already finding its way into my veins as my brain readies for information it does not want.
Guilt and shame crawl all over her face.  “Because I panicked about having to get married; so I kind of made a deal with him.”
I cannot possibly be hearing her properly.  Though, her face is still a deep maroon and she is having a difficult time meeting my eyes.  My blood is starting to boil now.  “Let me see if I understand you correctly,” I grind out. “You hated the idea of marrying me so much, you made a deal with an Angel to make me forget about making love to you?  Then, you accuse me of intentionally forgetting the whole thing?”
I am almost rendered speechless by her answer.  “Um, maybe?” 
This is not a time for word games.  “My question was pretty black and white.  You either did make a deal, or you did not.”
Her big, green eyes are rueful as she asks, “Does it count if I really, really regret it and want us to get married today?”
She cannot possibly be serious.  “No, it does not.  It all boils down to the same thing.  You intended to lie to everyone we care about because you do not want to honor the oath you took with me.”  I need to get out of here.  Turning away from her, I push the sheet back and stand up.  I dress myself on the way to the door. 
“Kallen, I panicked.  I want to honor our agreement.  Today.” 
Those words do not mean anything after what she just told me. I will not become right hand-fasted because she suddenly feels guilty about trying to get out of marrying me.  What sense would that make? 
“Where are you going?” she asks.
Without turning around, I say, “I need some fresh air.”  My tone is enough for her to understand I intend to go alone.  She does not follow me.
I am halfway down the stairs before my steps begin to slow, some of my anger ebbing as confusion over the whole situation sets in.  She made me forget that we had sex.  Xandra wanted to forget that we had sex.  But, she really does seem to have changed her mind about that considering how eager she was to make love when she woke me up.  Her passion was real, she wanted me.  But that was one hell of a betrayal she committed.  Is her sudden turnaround from guilt, or did she simply panic momentarily as she said?  She can be rash with her decisions.  I could easily see an Angel taking advantage of her in a moment like that.  Damn it, what should I do?
Sitting down on one of the bottom steps, I rest my elbows on my knees and let my hands dangle between them.  I felt betrayed when I thought Grandmother was sending me to the Cowan realm forever.  Even that did not hurt as much as this.  Leaning back against the steps, I rub my eyes with the heels of my palms.  What am I supposed to think?  Does Xandra really love me?  Yes, I believe she does.  But enough to become right hand-fasted?  I do not know.  I can hear my uncle’s words in my head again when he warned me something like this could happen.  I should have listened to him.  I cannot stop thinking that it is guilt that made Xandra say she changed her mind. 
Then again, maybe she did panic only for a moment and the Angel swooped in at the right time and took advantage of that.  It is creepy to think that we were being watched while we had sex, but the Angels do not necessarily respect Xandra’s privacy.  A well timed pull into Angel time to make a deal while her emotions were running high could be the truth.  I sigh.  I guess there is only one way to find out.  Standing up, I turn around and walk back up the stairs.
Xandra is no longer in bed.  I can hear the shower through the closed bathroom door.  Since I do not care to wait, I enter and stride to the shower door and throw it open.  “Do you truly want to marry me?” I ask in an even voice.  I will not let my emotions sway hers.
Her reply is immediate.  “Yes.  As soon as possible.”
Does she mean it?  I study her face for a moment, searching for an answer to that.  All I can see is love, not a trace of discomfort at the thought of a hand-fasting.  She does want to marry me.  Satisfied, I walk into the shower, not giving a damn about my clothes getting wet.  I place my hands on her cheeks and capture her lips in a kiss that says how much I want that to be true.  Xandra winds her arms around my neck and presses her beautiful, naked body to mine, offering herself to me. 
I groan, wanting her desperately, but no, it is not going to happen like this.  I want her to be sure and time is needed for that.  I wrench my body away from her and lean my forehead against hers, breathing heavily.  “No,” I say aloud.
“No?” she says in surprise. 
I drop my hands to my side and take a step back.  “If you truly want to marry me, I want it to be because you love me.  Not because you made love to me.”
Her brows furrow.  “But, we did make love.”
She is not getting it.  “Xandra, it does not count if I cannot remember it.”  Hell, our rings are not even glowing. 
Again, tears flood her eyes, wrenching at my heart.  “I’m sorry,” she whispers.
Steeling myself so I do not pull her close again, I shrug.  “It is done.”
Trying to smile, she says, “Did you know your clothes are all wet?”
I make my own attempt at a smile.  “That is easily remedied.”  Turning, I grab a towel off the towel rack and hand it to her. 
“Kallen,” she says softly, putting a hand on my cheek.  She does not seem to care that her naked body is torturing my self-control.  “It was a minute of panic about marriage, not about wanting to spend my life with you.”
Is there really a difference?  I find I do not want to hear her apologize again.  Diverting my eyes from hers, I look down.   There is a strange, mismatched pile of clothes on the floor.  It looks like a combination of pajamas and daywear, and none of it matches.  “Are you planning to wear the clothes on the floor?”
Xandra looks down and giggles.  “I’m starting a new fashion trend.”
“Then, perhaps I should reconsider wanting to marry you.”  That came out sharper than I intended.  Trying to relax, I wink at her.
The panic that was growing in her eyes ebbs.  Dropping the towel to the floor, she comes to me and wraps her arms around my neck again.  I believe she enjoys torturing me.  Against my lips, she murmurs, “Sorry, that option is off the table.  But, you can make me some clothes.”
Placing my hands on her waist, I let myself enjoy the feel of her naked body ever so briefly.  “In a moment,” I say, kissing her.  I cannot help letting my hands roam and she does not protest.  She only moans and tightens her hold on me. 
Damn it!  This is not how I want to do things.  Against my body’s strong urges, I make her a pair of jeans and a pink t-shirt.  Trying not to be disappointed, she says brightly, “Give me a minute to comb my hair and we can go tell Dagda the good news.”
A real smile forms on my face now.  I would not have thought that possible just moments ago.  It seems I have managed to put aside my anger, wanting a fresh start to the day.  “I will wait in the other room.”