Van sat bolt upright. His fingers dropping from my chin so he could sweep my hands up off my knees. He tilted his head to point an ear at me. “Say it again.”
“Yes, Van.” I whispered breathlessly.
“Yes, what, My Zira?”
He badly wants to hear me say the words. Though I was beyond reluctant to say all of it I could see the raw need on his face. Some deep desperation. A tiny flicker of hope sending gold lights into the darkness of his nearly-black eyes.
“Yes, Van. I’d like you to make love to me.”
Like? Why’d I say that rather than just consent?
Why did I want to entrust my body into the hands of this demon?
That was the thing. To me he was no longer just a demon. Yes, I was haunted by the thing that had shredded my body. Caused me unending suffering and utterly destroyed my spirit that night.
But I also remembered the being that’d woke next to me and carefully gone against his own nature to tender my spirit back to life as though it were the most precious thing in existence.
He’d cared for both my mind and body as I tried to heal.
Defying every grain of what he is. And, for whatever reason, I trusted that creature.
He stood over me. Wearing only those pants and that cloak. And he turned that golden-brown, long fingered hand to offer it to me.
I stared at it, understanding the gravity of what I was doing. My gaze flitted up to his unreadable face and I gained confidence looking at him. Tentatively slipping my far smaller hand into his.
His fingers wrapped around mine and he lightly massaged the back of my hand with his thumb before lifting it slightly to guide me to my feet.
I numbly stood.
He crouched before me. Maintaining eye contact as he lifted my foot and removed first one worn shoe. Then the other. Then he unraveled my cotton stockings and tucked them into my shoes. Setting them aside.
I was suddenly very grateful that I’d returned to the crone’s after the true demon had ravished me and gotten more clothes. She’d kindly given me some that no longer fit her girth.
It was the first new clothes I’d had in many years. New to me, at least.
And wearing so many layers now, made me feel slightly less vulnerable beneath his penetrating gaze. Thought the way he looked at me, made me feel as if I were already naked beneath his view.
“You always are.” He agreed. Reading my thoughts as he so often did. “I envision you that way constantly. It haunts me. I barely have to close my eyes to see your perfect, bare flesh.”
“I’m too skinny. Too frail.”
“Too, too…nothing. Where do you get all this?”
“I’ve been told by men afore.”
“They were men that didn’t truly see you.” Van dismissed focusing now on reaching beneath my skirt to catch the waist of my tattered petticoat and slid it down my legs. His rough knuckles brushing along the outside of my thighs in a delicious way that made me shiver.
He took my hand and held the garment to the ground so I could step out of it.
Treating me more as a lady now then any man ever had.