I was happily sitting in my office in Brightcoast Manor when Damian walked in and I looked up at him and he smiled.
“May I help you?” I asked. He walked over and kissed me.
“Are you expected at the palace this evening?” He asked. I raised my eyebrows.
“I’m expected at the palace every evening, but I doubt I’ll be missed if I send excuses,” I stood up and he put his arms around my waist. “Why?”
“I want to take you into town,” he said. I bit my lip. “This is your home, Rina, you should know it.” I smiled and nodded.
“Alright,” I said, “but will it be safe?” He laughed and stepped back.
“No one would dare hurt you.” He said. “And if they even tried I’d kill them.” I rolled my eyes. “We’ll have fun, my darling, I promise.”
“I have no doubt,” I said. He smiled and I looked at him. “What?” I mumbled.
“Are you very busy?” He asked and kissed my neck gently. I giggled and shook my head as he back me up against the desk.
“I am quiet important,” I muttered. He nodded and kissed me gently. “Damian,” I muttered as his hands slipped up, moving my skirts to my thighs. Since coming to Brightcoast we’d been less able to have sex. He was living at the palace and me at the manor for one thing. The other was that I was busy. Aaron had warned me that running a Provenance wasn’t a joke, and I don’t know how Papa did it from so far away for so long.
“I’ve missed you so much,” he said and slipped his fingers gently inside of me teasing me open. I whimpered happily. “Oh, that’s nice,” he smiled, “you’re ready for me?” He knew the answer, he knew my body so well at this point but I nodded.
“Don’t stop,” I whimpered, as he lifted me onto the desk and pushed into me. We went quickly, but it didn’t make it less amazing. I’ll be tired of him. We finished, panting his face resting on my chest. “And is that you wanted to show me?” He laughed.
“No,” he said with a gentle chuckle. “But I want to show you the Pharras neighborhood,” I swallowed and bit my lip and nodded. “Love,” he said, “they’re your people, they should know you, and you should know them.” I nodded.
“They likely resent me,” I said, “Papa and I have been gone so long.” He sighed and kissed me gently.
“No one resents you,” he said, “as far as I know, at least. They were all curious about you, why the manor was quiet, why you’re back now,” he kissed my palms. “why no one has seen you unless they work in the palace.”
“Everyone I know is at the palace,” I said defensively, “and a lot of my work.” He laughed. “Not all of us serve discarded second sons who don’t care if we spend our evenings in slum brothels.”
“Oh,” he grinned, “I’m telling Eric you think he’s a discarded second son,” I rolled my eyes. “And I learned a lot in those brothels that you seem to be enjoying.” I blushed.
“Regardless,” I said softly, “I need to check with Athena. If she thinks I need protection.” He laughed.
“I can protect you,” he said and pulled me close. I sighed. “Live a little, Duchess, I promise it won’t hurt.” I nodded. “Good.” I sighed as he started to leave.
“What does one wear, wherever it is we’re going?” I asked. He sighed.
“I hadn’t thought of that,” he said, “I suppose something you’d wear when you’re healing.” I frowned. I hadn’t thought of the plain blue dresses lately. But I had packed them, and they were clean and simple enough. I didn’t know if I would get much more work done so I slipped out of the office and down to the beach.
Raymond was sitting, focusing and gathering water into a small tide pool. He’d been so settled since we got here, spending a lot of time in the old seminary, channeling his power and reading and studying. I join him when I can. Ever since Athena had her Dream that the gods are in Westran he’s trying to figure out how we’ll bring the sea to the desert.
“Good afternoon,” he said serenely making a small whip of water dance around me. I laughed and pushed it back to him, making it sputter in his face. He stuck out his tongue at me.
I regret so many things taken from us, but I think a lot about the thread of time where my father was able to get us back to Phania, and Raymond, Lisette and I could have been children together.
“Good afternoon,” I said and kicked off my shoes and sat down, rolling my stockings down and off and let the waved lap onto my feet. “It’s good. How is isolating it going?”
“Not so good,” he sighed and joined me. “But unlike Lisette, I’ve never been good with fresh water. I think I need her help.” I raised my eyebrows. “I know, a long shot, but I’ll ask her tonight. You’ll back me up?”
“Mm,” I shook my head, “I’m not going tonight. Damian wants to bring me into town.” He groaned. “What?”
“To meet the Pharras, here?” He asked. I nodded. “How much time have you spent in taverns, Marina?” I swallowed.
“Well, none,” I said, “once when I was nine, I was allowed to go to a fair the Dumanis held, but even then I was flanked by Black Guards.” I hugged my knees. He frowned and put an arm around my shoulder.
“I think we all forget sometimes,” he said softly. I looked at him. “You might have fun, but you should be prepared for the smell.” I laughed and kissed him on the cheek.