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16/Am I

My vision was obsidian. One blink, two, three. Nothing. Panic bubbled in the pit of my stomach. I flexed and took inventory of every finger, toe, and muscle. Cautiously I sat up and felt around for the edge of the bed to the wall. A spark fanned into a flame. Seth held the lit candle out so I could see my way around the wall into the kitchen we had been before.

He secured the base of the candle into a concave bone that rested at the table’s edge.

He drugged me, that was the only explanation. If he was willing to do that, what else would he do to his ‘enemy’.

“It’s nearly sunrise.” He commented pointedly. Seth rolled up the hide covering the window and secured it with a leather string. The house’s windows were square holes in the wall, no glass or screens.

My brain was slow to understand his meaning. “I slept for a whole day and night?”

Another window was opened and the first sliver of light broke the horizon. “Yes. I would ask if you slept well but from your snoring I’ll assume it was restful.” I began to object but his laugh assured me he was joking. “Come we have chores to do.” My stomach grumbled in protest, but his statement sounded more like a command than a suggestion. Instead of going outside Seth disappeared into the room I came from. I followed him in, not sure if I should’ve stayed at the table or come with him. He handed off a long black shirt with patches of blue and gray stitching. It struck me that Seth made this himself, everything in the house he made for the family he never got. No! I won’t pity him. He drugged me!

I gave him the cold shoulder, which only amused him. The shirt came down to just above my knees. My eyes scanned the dimly lit area for pants but found none. “Pants?”

Seth opened a crate from the corner and fanned out a long piece of cloth with two leather straps on one end. “Put your arms up.” I lost the two second stare down and complied. He wrapped the straps around my waste and overlapped the fabric into a skirt, tying a bow on my left hip. Something undiscernible shadowed his features for a brief moment. Was it grief for something he made for his future mate was now being used for his enemy?

Seth returned to the box and pulled out two oddly cut leather patches with strings attached to every side. “Shoes.” He motioned for me to sit on the bed. Seth knelt before me, his thumb and fingers cradled my right heel. He molded the leather around my foot and tied the many strings around my ankle. I watched his deft fingers tie the second shoe around my left foot. They were comfortable but at a cost. If he really thought we were enemies, he wouldn’t have given his future mate’s shoes to me. Seth covered the pain with a sham of a scowl.

“Thank you.” My gentle exclamation was heartfelt.

“At least with you wearing them, they will get used.” I could hear the unspoken words. Alpha Davis never brought his mate back, now no one will get to use these gifts.

Seth held his hand out to me but I hesitated. “Aren’t we enemies by nature or association or something?”

A smile feathered his lips but didn’t reach his eyes. “Until proven otherwise.” My forehead creased at his riddle.

He pulled me to my feet and I realized I had a new natural enemy, gravity and my bladder. I did the universal dance which thankfully excused me from asking the embarrassing question.

Seth lead me to a bush around the side of the house. “Nope! I am NOT going outside like a wild anim-” His low growl cut off my unintended insult. “Don’t you have plumbing? An outhouse? Something?” I pleaded while hopping from foot to foot. At his quizzical gaze I briefly explained the wonders of indoor plumbing and a basic outhouse.

“I’ll see what I can do. But until then-” He pointed at the bush.

I looked to the sky and let lose a wild grunt of frustration that reminded me of my teenage years. My hands motioned for him to give me privacy, which he thankfully did.

Seth showed me the large empty barrel inside the kitchen. We walked along the backs of the cabins, into the forest, to a freshwater creek. The current was slow and the water at this time of year was shallow. Seth dipped two pales into the water then attached them to the end of a thick bowed stick. We backtracked to his kitchen where he dumped the water into the barrel. He walked with me back but this time I carried the load back to his cabin. On the third trip, the sun was above the horizon and there were movements within the cabins. A woman with midnight hair braided down her back walked in front of us with a stick and two pales similar to mine. We filled our buckets next to her. Seth caught her attention with a language I couldn’t understand. She responded with a warm smile. It was then that something felt familiar about her. Her high cheekbones and narrow chin caught my breath, but it was her voice that widened my eyes and made the connection. The woman from my dream who was giving birth. Her wet and matted midnight hair and flushed complexion from my dream didn’t disguise her now.

“Thia?” She looked taken aback, wide eyes darting between Seth and I.

“You understand our tongue?” Seth asked with an edge.

I shook my head no and looked to the ground embarrassed. How could I explain I had a dream about a woman I never met before now. And how could I tell her she was pregnant in my dream when Seth said all the women were barren. Would they even believe me? Maybe it wasn’t a dream of the future. Before I had only dreamed of Nash, but last night...the tea!

Seth and the woman were speaking rapidly in a dialect I couldn’t understand. “What was in that tea?”

“How do you know Thia when she doesn’t know you?” He countered.

I leapt to my feet, ready to run, when a gentle hand to the back of my arm halted my movements. I hadn’t seen her move from her spot, but Thia was by my side with frightened golden eyes. “How do you know me?”

“You were in my dream. I...” My eyes were downcast, unwilling to meet hers for the next part. “I was helping deliver your baby.” Her hand retracted from my arm like I was living fire. I peeked from under my eyelashes to see her warring between disbelief and hope.

Arms snaked around my frame and held me to Seth’s body. It wasn’t uncomfortably tight but was constricting enough for the breath to be driven from my body. His shoulders trembled as he mumbled ‘finally’ repeatedly to himself. Seth tilted his head until his lips aligned with my ear. “Until proven otherwise.”

I pushed with all my strength against him only to be met with an equal unmoving force. “Let me go! It was just a dream. I’m not the freaking messiah of births.”

Seth let me retreat a few steps. “That’s how you knew!” He pointed a finger at me full of accusation.

“Knew what?” My pitch skyrocketed an octave.

“I couldn’t figure it out. There was no way you knew Nash before that night, so how did you just so happen to find him off campus in the middle of a storm? You had a dream of him. You dreamed of...where to find...your-” Seth trailed off his golden eyes wide and mouth slack.

I took in the out of control scene, Thia staring with wonder at her stomach and to me, Seth possibly in shock. “My what?!” My scream startled them both.

“You’re a freshman in college that makes you-” Seth trailed off seeming to count partially in his head and out loud. “Who is your father Jessica?” Thia whipped her head to Seth understanding his questioning.

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