I woke up with sunlight peaking through the curtains and pulled the covers over my head.
“Caro,” Tristan’s voice sing songed. I peaked back out. “Are you awake?”
“I am not,” I said firmly. He laughed and kissed me. “I’m sleeping, go away.” He kissed me again.
“But I’m home,” he said, sliding under the covers with me.
“You’ve been home for three days,” I reminded him, “and I’ve enjoyed it, but you’re rather tiring my love.” He smiled and kissed my neck.
“Ah,” he said, pulling my hips to him. “But I was in the wilderness for four months,” I giggled, “and the thought of tiring you out was the only thing keeping me sane.” I kissed him again.
“The only thing?” I said. He nodded. “Your mission didn’t come into your mind?” He sighed and kissed me.
“Tragically,” he shook his head, “you know I tend to be singularly focused, and this round it was, ‘I am going to go home as soon as possible and make my wife moan for three days straight.'” I laughed.
“Well Commander, you succeeded beautifully,” I kissed him. “But I ask for a slight reprieve.” He sighed. I kissed him. “Now, we can’t put off everything else we have to do.” He groaned as the door opened.
“Lady Dugarry,” our maid, Elsie smiled dropping a tray on the table, “Sir Tristan.”
“Thank you Elsie,” I said standing up and opening the curtains. Tristan pouted at me. “As you can see, Sir Tristan is behaving like a child this morning.”
“Yes, ma’am,” Elsie laughed. “Shall I send word to the Countess not to expect you, again?”
“You can send word to the Countess that she can hang in the village square for all I care,” Tristan grumbled, “as if my sister would attend a godsdamned dinner party after a four month ranging mission.” I kissed him gently.
“We can’t put them off again,” I said, “please tell the Countess we look forward to seeing her tonight.” Elsie nodded and left. “You know,” I said slipping back into bed and straddling him, “when Alex and Emily came through I bought several new gowns and I haven’t gotten to wear them at all.” He laughed at my pout.
“The gowns can hang along with my sister,” he said and flipped me onto my back. I groaned as he started touching me. “When we go to Dovetail, we’ll hardly have any time alone, here,” I whimpered, “I have you all to myself, just as I prefer it.”
“Oh Tristan,” I sighed. I’m weak. I know I should tell him no, that we’ve delayed long enough and we can’t spend another day simply making love.
But I’ve missed him too. Four months is the longest we’ve ever been apart. And his times out in Westran or east in Failor were getting longer.
“Tell me you like it,” he whispered in my ear.
“You know I do,” I teased and nibbled on his bottom lip. He smirked as he pressed into me. We always have this. The physical distance between us can become emotional, but in when we’re in bed, it’s the same as when we first met. We want each other and everything else doesn’t matter. “Tristan, oh gods,” I moaned, arching up into him. “I can’t, I’m going to,” I exhaled and clenched around him.
“Hang on a bit longer, sweet,” he said, “stay with me.” I nodded and cried out as we both finished. “I missed being with you so much, Caro,” he whispered. “Sometimes I thought I was Dreaming.” I smiled and kissed him.
“I felt that too,” I said softly, resting my hand on his chest. “We still have to go to the manor tonight. Athena’s likely to break down our door and then make Aaron evict us if we avoid it any longer.” He laughed.
“I don’t think he can evict us,” Tristan said, “the house was a part of our wedding contract. Unless someone in Dorin takes Andrei’s challenge seriously, he can’t get rid of us.” I barked out a laugh.
“Well, then we’re perfectly safe, since Alex has everyone in Dorin fully convinced that Andrei is out of his mind,” I said. “But we’d better not risk it.” He sighed and I kissed him. “Tristan,” I whispered, “please.”
I knew why he wanted to stay in bed, what he hoped it would lead to.
“Have you spoken to Marina about it?” He whispered. I nodded. “And?”
“Well, she said it will happen on the goddess’s timeline, not ours,” I slipped a robe on.
“Which is Marina for, be patient, the baby will come?” He asked. I shrugged.
“I think,” I kissed him, “it also means that even if we spend every moment we’re together having sex, only being together for a few days every few months, means we can’t count on anything.” He sighed and sat up. I straddled him and pressed my hands against his chest. He had so many scars now. There had been a few I’d always known, the one on his side from taking Dovetail, the small one on near his eyebrow, from a time Athena accidentally cut him as a child. But there were two on his right pectoral now, several on his back. Three on each thigh.
And I was never there for the healing, for his pain. I hated that, I wanted to be, so badly, but it was something he kept hidden away, like so many other parts of himself.
“You’re right,” he sighed. “But I know how badly you want it.” I smiled.
“I do,” I said softly. “But you’re home, and safe, and I can’t ask the gods for more than that,” he kissed me. “This one is new,” I said softly brushing his shoulder.
“Mm,” he nodded, “we walked into a briar nest, it was fine.” I nodded.
“Why didn’t Prior come here with you?” I asked. Tristan’s ranging partner sometimes came here. He frowned.
“He was in rather a hurry to get on to Dovetail,” he muttered. I frowned.
“Oh,” I said softly, “I hadn’t realized they were still,” he shrugged.
“She has to entertain herself somehow,” he sighed.
“Tristan,” I said quietly. Though that at least got him out of bed. I wanted to say something, but anything I’d say on the subject would sound hollow, jealous. She isn’t replacing you, no one could. I have to believe that. Annalise’s lovers have nothing to do with Tristan, because if they do, then what does our marriage mean? I know I can’t be what she was to him. I’d never even bothered to try.
“I’m sorry,” he said, “I know you didn’t mean,” I kissed him. “I’ll get dressed, we’ll walk into town, and then to the manor.” I nodded. “I brought some things for Calla.” I grinned.
“She’s missed you too, you know.” I said. “Annalise is considering giving her the circlet soon.” He looked at me.
“That’ll be sure to calm the Phanians down,” he said. I shrugged.
“Nothing else has,” I sighed, “we got some word that Lord Lestoff is rebuilding his launches, that’s good news, if the ferries start running.” He smirked.
“Any news from Brinecliff is good news,” he muttered. I shook my head.
“You don’t get to resent Annalise having Prior and Marina pining for Lieutenant Lestoff at the same time, love,” I teased. He laughed. “And us not having a child. It’s too much. Even you can’t sustain that level of brooding.”
“I’m very good at it though,” he grinned. I shook my head. “What is it you want to do today, besides dinner?”
“I have to go into town,” I said, he groaned. “I haven’t checked in in a few days, something may have happened.”
“I won’t speak to him,” he said.
“Oh that will be new a different,” I grinned. “You two are usually on such good terms.” He glared at me. “Tristan, he’s a useful contact. I can either do my job well, or I can ostracize William, it cannot be both.”
After I was inducted into the guard, it became abundantly clear that I was not a fighter. But Dowager Countess Olivia quickly observed how my merchant trained manners set people at ease, and how my contacts through Alex and Emily could keep the army up to date. So instead of a soldier I became a spy. I’m very very good at it.
Tristan hates it.
That is the least of our problems.