Vice & Virtue: Noa

Chapter 11

He’s alive, and has taken up residence in the city. In Erik’s absence I made an unannounced visit to my mother’s and he was there. I cannot express how happy I was to see him, my heart was overjoyed.

“I’ve missed you too.” He says, relieving his neck of my tight embrace.

“We were told that you’d died.”

“I did, but now i’m back.”

“If Erik finds out...”

“He won’t, unless you tell him.”

“You know that I won’t.” I reassure him.

“Good, I had thought that i’d lost you.” He says, taking my hand in his.

“You’re my friend, we’ll always be friends.”

“Ahem... I’ll get us drinks.” Says my mother, closing the door on us.

“I’m just happy that you’re okay.”

“I will be, once I reclaim my throne.”

“T’Challa, you can’t...”

“I can’t take back what was stolen, who’s going to stop me?”

“He’s not going to let it go so easily.”

“Good, I was hoping that he wouldn’t, Wakanda doesn’t need a tyrant on the throne.”

“He’s not so bad... and you know how this is going to end.”

“With one of us dead, I would like to spare my cousin, help him to see reason. But do you think he will?”

“He just needs some time, he can be a good King, it’s in him.”

“You defend him so earnestly, so you are lost to me.”

“What are you talking about, I told you...”

“Do you love him?”

Do I? He needs to work on his temper, and put aside his murderous ways, but I know that sorrow and hurt has made him this way. He can change.

“I do.”

“I had thought to make you my queen, after the tribunal ceremony.” He says, releasing my hand.

“You love Nakia.”

“I can’t lie to you, I do love her, but she loves her duties more than me.”

I can’t imagine the pain in loving someone, who refuses to love you back in kind. My heart goes out to him, but I can’t... and I sure as hell ain’t nobody’s second choice.

“I have no interest in sharing a man’s heart.”

Producing a box, he extracts a ring.

“T’Challa, I can’t accept this.”

“I charged it to the palace, take it as a token of my love for you, as a friend”

It’s perfect, not overly gaudish.

“Maybe when we’re not in love with other people, we can fall in love with each other.” He adds.

“Aww...” I reply, with a light laugh.

A light kiss on the hand, and a small bow...

“Maybe...” I say.

Returning to the city with him, he purchases a concoction to apply to myself, to mask his scent.

" I can smell him all over you, I know that he’ll be able to pick up mine.”

Erik finally came home, and caught me on the way out to meet in secret with T’challa for the third time, hoping to persuade him to not challenge Erik. And I can’t say that I don’t enjoy his company, it’s just the Dora’s, the domestic workers, and Lethu in residence at the palace. Only a few of the nobles have come to pay homage to the new King, and I don’t blame them, but it gets lonely sometimes.

Hooded we peruse the local street vendor’s wares, beautiful birds, jewels, clothing, and more.

“Let me have this one.” Says, T’Challa concerning a gown that he noticed me eyeing.

“No, I can pay for it.”

“It’s nothing, i’ll be back at the palace soon, where I belong.” He says, handing over the proper amount of coins.

“That’s what I came here to discuss.”

“You can’t change my mind. Once he’s dethroned, if you don’t want to stay, you can go with him.” He says, with a note of anger.

Well so much for love and friendship...

“I’m sorry, i’m just a little annoyed. He’s attacked Egypt, and has Wakanda’s soldiers heading for Israel. He’s making a mess of thing’s, and my attempts to rally the tribes against him has been unsuccessful.”

Well that’s good and bad news.

“Maybe if we let him...”

“Please do not say anything else, unless you’re speaking from the heart.”

“But I am...”

“You know what I mean.” He says.

Retrieving the wrapped gown from the merchant, I follow him to another Vendor.

“Tonight’s the celebration of Creation, I think we both could use some joy right now, will you join me?”

I’d forgotten about the celebration of Creation, we feast and make merry, and then couples retire to create.

“I can’t...”

“Oh come now, you can spend a few hours with a friend, i’m not asking you to do any creating.”

His humor is much needed, and an hour or two won’t hurt...

I awake in an unfamiliar bed, in a flat that’s unfamiliar to me. My head hurts, and the last thing that I remember is the market and T’Challa.

“You’re awake...” He says, coming into the bedroom.

“Can you not speak so loudly?”

“Here, this will help with the headache.”

“What happened?” I inquire, taking the glass of dark liquid.

“You celebrated a little too much.”

The revelers are still going strong, the music, the noise... the clock chiming the hour.

“Three in the morning, I have to get back...” I say panicked, slipping on my shoes.

“I’ll take you at daybreak.”

I’m already out the door, cutting through the partiers as fast as my legs can take me. I can hear my name being called, but I keep moving.

Exhausted, hair unkempt, clothing disheveled, I make an attempt at tidying up, and know that Ive fallen short, when I enter the palace.

Erik and Lethu are waiting, both just staring at me. And then I see something in his eyes, that frightens me to my soul. His purposeful steps towards me, I can’t even run.

“Erik... let me explain.” I say, trying to back away as quickly as he’s advancing.

The wall halting my steps, his fist making a connection with it makes a resounding thump.

“N’Jadaka!” Says Lethu.

“Go on, explain why you’re coming home at three in the morning, smelling of wine with a man’s scent on you.” He says, with controlled anger.

I’d forgotten to apply the scent overload salve, to mask his specific scent. I can’t betray him...

“I attended the creation celebration.”

“And that means what to me?”

“Couple’s, lovers create new life tonight.” Explains Lethu.

His angry yells, with each strike of the wall, alerts the Dora’s, who appear as if by magic.

“My King?” Inquires Okoye, accessing the situation.

Bedraggled, disturbed, and jaded, I just want to rest, to reassess my predicament. His menacing scowl, haunts me as Lethu removes me from his captivity.

“Take the Queen to her rooms, please.” He says, eyes never leaving Erik, who’s back remains turned to me.

I leave post haste, slamming the door in my escort’s faces. Leaning against the door, I let the tears fall. Better to let him think that I was with another, than for him to know that T’Challa lives.

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