(Copyright Kelly St. Clare, 2016)
The door is flung open. Perhaps ripped from the hinges is a more apt description. The heavy wood
crashes against the stone wall. In the entrance of my room stands the King of Glacium.
We stare at each other wordlessly. It’s like this every time. I can’t imagine ever getting over how he makes my heart stop, or how all words disappear from thought when I set my eyes upon him. How his piercing blue eyes can peer into the very corners of my being.
“Get up,” he says. “You’re going downstairs.”
With all that said, he can be overbearing, pig-headed, and demanding.
“I’m not going tonight. I’ll go tomorrow,” I reply.
The King strolls into the room and I tense. Jovan never strolls.
The towering man of muscle circles the bed with lazy steps, never removing his gaze from my face.
I lick my lips.
“And what is your reason tonight?” He waits for my answer from the corner of the bed, resting one arm up against the corner stone framing.
What is my reason? I’d used pain a few times. Then faked illness another. Fatigue at the start.
“I … I don’t feel— "
He chooses that moment to strike. My reflexes are still sharp, but my muscles are not, weakened from bed rest and injury. One arm is under my knees, and the other encircling my back before the gasp has left my throat.
I glare up into Jovan’s face as he swings me up into his arms. I’m glad to see he’s finally shaved. For a while, when I first awoke, the stubble had become unruly.
His jaw is set. “You’re coming to the food hall for dinner, whether you like it or not.”
Damn my breath for coming fast, but it does. I can’t maintain my glare and feel my eyes widen of their own accord.
Jovan’s eyes lose their glacial edge. “Lina, you have to do this.”
My insides melt as he drops the “O” from my name. It is a form of endearment on Osolis.
He hoists me into a better position and heads to the door. “You might hate me for forcing this, but it needs to be done. You’re worrying yourself sick.”
I lift my arms to wrap them around his neck. I don’t place him in a head lock, but the thought does cross my mind. “Jovan. It’s not a good idea.”
He stops in his tracks. “So what would you do then? Do you wish to leave?”
I blink. “W-what?”
“We can leave and never return.”
It’s hard to be angry when I’m reliant on him to carry me. “Don’t be stupid.”
Jovan continues down the stairs, my chest jabbing when we reach the stairs. He’s trying to lessen the jarring, I can tell.
“Those are your choices,” he says firmly. “You enter the food hall. Or we leave. What would you like to do?”
He’s manipulating me and not trying to hide it in the slightest. Jovan would make a terrible solati. He is skilled at hiding the emotion from his face, but has no subtlety in the way he speaks. That’s not to say his way is ineffective.
He knows I won’t run. He knows that I care too much about what others think of me; that I have come too far, have born too much to give up. “You’re right,” I say quietly.
I wince as he wrenches to an immediate stop.
“What did you say?” His eyes are wide; an incredulous smile lights his face.
A small smile creeps across my face against my will. “I said you might be right.”
He snorts. “I’m definitely right.”