I woke up still wrapped happily around Harran. I liked the way that his arms were resting at my waist and his forehead on my shoulder.
And I’d missed being held.
“Good morning,” he smiled. I stretched and blinked at him
“Good morning,” I said and kissed him. “So, is this when we talk about how we’ve made a grave mistake?” He chuckled and stretched.
“I thought this was the part where I promise to stand by you and marry you regardless of your moral frailty in this scenario.” I giggled. “Lisette,” he softly cupped my face, “this doesn’t have to be anything beyond last night.” I withdrew a little.
“Oh,” I said standing up and finding a robe and slipping it on. He sighed and looked at me.
“That came out wrong,” he said, “I meant, I know things aren’t simple for you, in general,” I looked at him, “I don’t want to be a complication.” I sat down with him. He took my hands.
“You could never be,” I said softly. He shrugged. “Harran, how could you think that?” He chuckled softly. “I mean, the leaders aren’t thrilled with anything I’ve been doing anyway, I might as well do as I like.” He kissed me.
“Lisette,” he said, “I don’t mind caring about you more than you care about me. Hell, the moment I met you, all those years ago, I was sure that was my fate, even when I thought my obstacle was simply, being a foreigner who would take you far away from home.” I swallowed. “But we shouldn’t delude ourselves either.” I sighed. He pulled me close again.
“I know what you mean,” I said. “At least, I hope so.” He kissed me gently. “Harran,” I said softly. “Are you asking?” He shook his head.
“No, love,” he whispered, “you’d say yes and it would be wrong. I’ll stay in your bed until you turn me away, but I’ll only marry you if you’re not looking at anyone else and that’s impossible.”
“Now you sound like Eric,” I muttered and pulled away. He laughed and shook his head.
“I think he’s an idiot for resisting you, but like him I don’t want to be a consolation prize,” he kissed my shoulder. “You loved Tristan, you’re falling in love with Eric. There isn’t really room for me in that equation, Lisette.” I swallowed.
“You’re here,” I said sliding back, into a straddle. “That’s where you fit. You’re the one who’s here.” He kissed me deeply.
“I can live with that,” he said softly. The for now was implied in his tone. “Are you busy today?” I nodded.
“There’s a leader’s meeting that Aaron said is very important,” I explained, “and Olivia wants to speak with me about something.” He nodded and we kissed again. “Tonight I’m yours though.” He grinned.
“Alright,” he said softly. We kissed again. I really didn’t want to leave him. The already somewhat hazy memory of last night’s intensity was drawing me in. “Lisette,” he whispered, “if you don’t leave soon, I might not be able to let you.” I giggled.
“Well,” I whispered and kissed him again. “I have a little time.” He grinned and rolled me onto my back. As he pressed into me, I groaned softly.
“Oh yes,” he whispered. “Tell me what you need.” I pushed up to take all of him. “Oh Lisette, I need you.” I sighed and moaned.
“I need you too,” I said, and I meant it. I do need him, in my life, and he’s right, there isn’t space for him there, except this. Is it wrong? It might be. We finished and didn’t talk again as we got dressed to start the day but I couldn’t help enjoying the look on his face or the final kiss to my neck as he left quickly. I smiled brightly walking down the hallway to go get breakfast with Olivia.
I was glad she’d come, I’d been ready to accept her staying in Pantona, but I was grateful she’d changed her mind. I walked in and saw her apartment, which was positioned on the east end of the building so had lovely morning light. She was sitting sipping gently on tea. Aaron was leaning against the door frame. And, oddly Thomas was here too.
“Why do I feel like I’m in trouble?” I said sitting down. “Thank you,” I said softly as a maid handed me coffee.
“Can’t imagine why,” Aaron raised an eyebrow. I sighed.
“We need to talk to you two about something,” Olivia said gently. Aaron sighed and sat down. I glanced at Thomas.
“Oh!” I said, “OH!” He laughed. Aaron looked at them. “Well, that’s nice.” I took a sip. I looked at Aaron. “Do you have anything to say?”
“I was very aware of this,” he shrugged. “I was in Pantona, in case you all forgot, and neither of you are particularly good at sneaking.” Thomas smiled. “I’m glad, but I feel honor bound to,”
“Yes, yes,” Thomas nodded, “pain of a thousand deaths if she’s unhappy for even a moment.” I laughed. “Now, why on earth would you feel you were in trouble, Your Majesty?”
“No reason,” I kicked Aaron, who snorted. I narrowed my eyes at him.
“Right,” Olivia nodded. “I think I’d rather not know.”
“I know you’d rather not know,” Aaron said. Thomas frowned. “But I think we should all talk about why Lisette is in trouble.” I glared at him.
“I’m not in trouble,” I said, “Harran understands the situation perfectly.” Olivia choked on her tea.
“Harran understands perfectly?” Thomas said. I nodded, trying to be casual. “Annalise, I am not going to instruct you how to conduct your sex life.”
“Thank you?” I said.
“But,” Aaron said, “while Westran is a strategic gain,”
“As according to Athena it is where the gods are imprisoned,” I pointed out.
“Right,” Thomas nodded. “But, um, well, King Daniel is fixated on united the line of the island with the clearly Chosen line of Tumona, between your mother, and you and Marina, and frankly Raymond,” I exhaled and looked at him, “and he’s built an entire new fleet to bring Cammadan to him one or the other.”
I stopped and took a deep breath.
“Oh,” I said softly. “But as I understand it, this means if Eric leaves, his brother has an Aamanda that can lead an invasion,” I said softly. Thomas nodded. “We’re barely healing!”
“Well, yes,” Thomas sighed, “and as you were genuinely becomimg fond of Eric and you hate being told what to do, Athena and I decided it was best to not tell you about this development.” I blinked, he wasn’t wrong.
“But then you decided to be super reckless and bring Harran into your bed so now it’s all a problem,” Aaron glared at me.
“Aaron,” Olivia hissed. He looked at her. “Thomas, both of you need to leave.” Thomas sighed and stood up, his palms up as he backed out the door. Aaron glared at us both. “I mean it, get out.” He looked at me. She was rarely this serious. Let alone this insistent. They left. “So,” Olivia looked at me, “you slept with Harran.”
“Yes,” I said softly. “Should I not have? You were the one who told me to have fun.” She exhaled.
“I was never playing at your level and that was about Tristan.” She said sharply. I looked down. “Don’t even pretend that you think Eric will accept you taking another lover when he refused to even consider courting you until Tristan was on the other side of the continent trying to pursue marriage to another woman.” I exhaled.
“I know that,” I said softly. She looked at me and sighed. “He’s just so frustrating. He wants me, he’s falling in love with me, but he pulls back when I try to get close.” I exhaled, “and with Harran it’s simple, it works, why am I still fighting?” She smiled.
“Because you’re not in love with Harran,” Olivia said softly. I frowned. “He’s in love with you, he always has been. Frankly, I was hoping the chiefs would send someone else, but I doubt he’d have let them.” I looked at her and swallowed. “Lisette, you can do whatever you like, there’s no reason not to, but you have to be careful,” I went to say something, “I know you hate the politics, and it isn’t fair, that you have to play politics with your heart, but it’s the reality.” I swallowed.
“I know,” I sighed. She looked at me. “I do, I’ll clean up the mess.” She nodded.