[Chapter Twenty Two]
Sitting in the cave, Olivia pondered on Rykal’s actions for the last day or so. Ever since Olivia told him about her life in Limrock, he had been glaring at everything but her with a sour look and furrowed brows. His sudden mood change had been causing his wounds to become more infected to a point where all that dripped from his shoulder was black fluid. The green veins weren’t phased as they naturally were fading, much to Olivia’s relief. But in the span of 48 hours, the wounds had produced so much black fluid that Olivia had to clean them three or four times a day. She could see that Rykal hated having her clean his wounds tirelessly, but his mood remained harsh and bitter. Honestly, Olivia didn’t know what would cheer him up, the girl hardly knew a thing about him.
At the moment, even while he slept, the scowl remained on his features and Olivia sighed. The fire had gone out when she woke and the dragon shifter did look cold. She thought that perhaps making another fire would warm him up and put him in a better mood when he woke. Deciding it was the best thing to do, Olivia stood and walked to the entrance. Her bruising had gone down a fair bit to a point where she could jump off the edge, nether the less she didn’t dare to risk it. Olivia had begun picking up the fallen twigs and snapping off some thicker ones, thinking about some ways to cheer the dragon shifter up. If she succeeded, not only would she put Rykal in better moods but it’d also help with her guilt in Grimfore. She had been trying to not snap at him, but her emotions were all over the place; one minute she was happily chowing on fish and next minute she was running outside to vomit it up and came back in a grumpy mood.
Olivia cringed at the awful hurling noises she made and knew Rykal could hear her. She had buried it with snow, hoping Rykal couldn’t smell it. As she figured she had enough wood, a growl so loud and feral sliced through the silence. Olivia twisted her body around so fast, a few sticks fell from her arms. When Rykal awoke and saw she wasn’t there, he must’ve thought she had run away. He still didn’t trust her and hated it when she walked out of his line of view.
Hasty, she rushed back to the cave. She threw the sticks inside before hauling her body in and there was Rykal, frantically staggering his way to the cave entrance. Olivia nearly crashed into him and caught him as he staggered forward into her. Rykal’s eyes blinked in shock as Olivia grunted from his weight and wrapped her arms around his torso.
“Damn it, Rykal, I was only gone for five minutes,” Olivia scolded, not able to keep the irritation from her voice with her sudden mood change.
Rykal growled faintly and moved his head into her shoulder. “You know I despise it when I can’t see you,”
Olivia only rolled her eyes and adjusted her weight to hold his. “Rykal, if I wanted to run away I would’ve done it already. It was tempting at first when you said you wouldn’t come after me but I decided to stay and look after you. I’m not the kind of person to leave someone to die if I knew I could help,”
Rykal silently wrapped his arms around her waist, sinking his head fully into the crook of her neck. Olivia’s heart skipped a beat as sparks danced along her skin, soaking into her tender nerves. Her body shivered at the oddly pleasurable sensation.
“Do you know what one of my kind’s traditions is?” Rykal murmured against her skin.
Olivia swallowed the lump her throat and spoke raspier than she expected. “What would that be?”
Rykal nudged her neck and kissed the soft skin tenderly. “We male dragons tend to mark what belongs to us,”
Olivia’s breath hitched in her throat and she found herself becoming warmer than usual. Her mind clouded with unfamiliar desires as her hands tightly gripped the rough material of Rykal’s shirt.
“You do?” she said breathlessly.
Rykal hummed in agreement. “We tend to be possessive over what we claim as ours,”
Olivia gulped. “So, what are you saying? Your intentions have something to do with this tradition that I don’t understand?”
Rykal pulled his head back and nodded. “You know what I do, but you don’t understand why,”
Olivia stepped back and walked into the cave. She crossed her arms in frustration of how cryptic Rykal was being. Why couldn’t he just tell her to begin with and allow her the time to process his proper answer? Not leave her guessing with each answer that was better off as a riddle. She wouldn’t run away again if it’s bothering him. Nothing could be worse than death and she was sure of it more than anything.
“Why can’t you just give me a proper answer, Rykal? It’s not like I’m going to run off again,” Olivia mumbled the last part.
Rykal scoffed. “Seeing as you ran off the first chance you got because of your fear of me, what makes you think you’re ready to learn my intentions,”
Olivia faced him with a stern expression. “If it’s not death then it can’t be that confusing. On the other hand, your simple answers have been nothing but confusing and it annoys me to no end,”
Rykal quirked his brow up and grinned. “You’re more extrovert than when I first met you,”
Olivia gave a sarcastic smile and waved him off. “It’s the cycle talking, not me,”
“I noticed,” he replied bluntly.
Olivia chose to ignore him as she picked up the awaiting sticks, placed them down, threw a lit match in and decided she felt like some squirrel; she would tend to Rykal’s wounds when the food was cooking. She was walking past Rykal when his wing opened, blocking Olivia’s view of the path as she came to an abrupt stop. She looked at Rykal who crossed his arms at her.
“Another tradition of my kind is the male always gets the meals. Females only come if the males let them,”
Olivia placed her hand on her hip. “You saying I can’t?”
“I’m saying I would let you come if you weren’t going through your cycle. But since you are, I’d rather you stay here and keep warm,”
Olivia cocked her brow and shoved past his wing. “Well, I’m hungry and since you keep telling me that I don’t understand your traditions, that leaves me to think I can go because I don’t understand that tradition of yours. If anything, I feel offended,” Rykal blinked at her as she walked to the edge. She looked over her shoulder, expecting him to follow her. “Are you coming? Or are you the female that needs to stay behind due to your injuries?”
Rykal snarled at her, baring his canines as he stomped after her, grumbling under his breath. Olivia giggled as she set her feet into the snow. Breathing in the fresh cold air, she felt a sense of calmness. She had never felt as calm as she did ever since spending her last happy day with her family. Looking back at Rykal who was yawning and stretching out his arms, wings mimicking, the girl knew that she was drawn to him in a way she couldn’t explain, at least not yet. A part of her still regretted running from him, but another part was glad, otherwise, if she stayed in the cave, she might’ve still been terrified of his intentions of killing her. She maybe not know exactly what they were, but the same part of her that was drawn to him made her believe he wasn’t as bad as the books made him and his kind out to be.
Rykal caught her eye and he tilted his head at her. She only smiled in return. It was quickly replaced with a grimace as throbs of pain clenched at her abdomen. Olivia hummed out a groan and wrapped her arms around her stomach, applying pressure to somehow relieve the pain in her lower region. It didn’t go how she wanted and she had to sit on her knees, hunching over into the snow. Her head felt the frost nipping at the warmth of her scalp and heard Rykal call out to her.
Olivia just groaned and clutched her stomach tightly, wishing she would’ve drunken the disgusting brew medicine before she decided to be rebellious. She regretted it and slowly stood, Rykal stopping beside her. Without warning, Rykal turned her around and, while keeping his hands on her shoulders, pushed her toward the cave.
“Rykal —” Rykal gave her a stern look when she twisted her head back and she kept quiet. He walked her back to the edge of the cave and the dragon shifter let go of her. The girl spun around and he only pointed inside the cave.
“As I said,” the dragon shifter murmured. “You’re going through your menstruating cycle, and therefore I won’t allow you to come with me to find food,”
Olivia pursed her lips and looked away, muttering under her breath as she climbed back into the cave. Her sour mood change to one of annoyance as clenches of her lower region demanded acknowledgment. Sighing in aggravation, she went to the sack while Rykal left with a chuckle of amusement to annoy the girl further.
Olivia looked over her shoulder and glared at the Rykal. “So glad my cycle brings you joy, lizard,”
Rykal only laughed louder outside. “Ah, Dragella, you bring me joy,”
Olivia fought hard to stay unaffected by his words but it didn’t prevail as her heart fluttered with glee and her stomach twisted with butterflies. When she retrieved the brewed medicine and swallowed down a decent amount before chugging half a bottle of water, Olivia breathed in deeply and then out. She grabbed the lotion and as she applied it to her leg bruise, Rykal walked back in holding four dead squirrels by the tail. Olivia blinked at him as she pulled down her trouser sleeve and glanced at the squirrels.
“Where did you find those squirrels?” she asked.
“I went looking not far into the forest,” he replied.
Olivia was about to protest about him going into the forest, but her better judgment told her to keep her mouth shut. He may be talking to her but it didn’t mean he forgave and trusted her. If he did something that she wasn’t allowed to, it was because he still had trust issues with her. She didn’t hold it him against, she’d do the same thing.
“Oh,” was all she said.
Rykal gave her a weird look but left it. He stabbed the squirrels with the wood spikes, two on each. He put the blunt end into the ground and Olivia realized she should’ve washed her body before putting on the lotion. She decided it would be a waste, but she had to clean her lower region as it so gracefully told her through clenching throbs and dampened thighs. With a slight wince, Olivia stood up, feeling annoyed for no reason and grumbled to Rykal that she was having a shower. She didn’t hear a reply and didn’t bother waiting for one as she grabbed the roll of bandages she’d be using and took it with her behind the waterfall.
As she took off her sweater and trousers, she felt a gush of wind and water spray onto her face. The coldness made her yelp and she climbed onto a rock and looked inside the cave — revealing only her head. Rykal was gone as the squirrels cooked over the fire. A frowned creased her forehead as Olivia looked around; all she saw was rocks and water.
“Rykal?” she called out.
“Yes?” he answered above.
Though when she looked up, she couldn’t see anything but the water falling over the cliff. “Uh, where are you?”
“In the lake above you,”
Olivia quirked her brow at his randomness but she brushed it off as him having his own shower. But if he was having a bath then wouldn’t she be using the water he first used? It wouldn’t exactly be getting her clean but rather bathing in Rykal. It didn’t make sense in the slightest and Olivia rolled her eyes at her mental thoughts.
“What are you doing up there?” she asked.
“Warming the water,” flickers of light lit the water a pale orange and Olivia wondered what he was doing.
Though she frowned and looked at the water, it didn’t look warm. A small icicle flowing down with the water didn’t convince her that it was warm. But Olivia shrugged her shoulders and took off the remaining clothing, it didn’t matter if the water was warm or not, she wasn’t complaining. She mentally prepared herself for the bitter cold to soak her bare body but when she stepped in, immediately, warmth washed over her. Such a pleasurable feeling allowed a soft moan to escape her lips as the stiff tension in her muscles started washing away down the river. She closed her eyes and looked up into the waterfall. The bliss feeling of warmth descending down upon her body made her reach up and stretch her hands high above her.
“God, Rykal,” she moaned in delight. “The water’s so warm,”
The water rose in temperature and Olivia felt all the tension leave her muscles, including the clenching in her abdomen. Reaching for the roll, Olivia ripped off a fair amount of bandages and formed it into a makeshift scrub, using it to clean her body of the grime, filth, and blood. She then decided to wash her underwear and trousers, quickly doing so along with her bra and shirt in pursuit. She laid them out on the grass by flipping it above her and washed the grease from her hair, though without soap, it would have to do.
Once she’d finished, she stood under the waterfall for a bit longer, feeling an overwhelming state of tranquility. Though she knew it had to end and called out to Rykal, letting him know she was done. He replied with having a bath of his own, mention something about having a situation. Olivia was slightly concerned, but Rykal needed the bath; washing his wounds would save Olivia time and help with the healing process, so she just agreed with him, also saying he should stay up there until she was dressed. Strangely, he hastily agreed in a voice that sounded of discomfort.
Once Olivia’s body was dry, she put on her underwear with a fresh blood catcher and her shirt. Though, her sweater and trousers were of thicker material and had to dry a little longer. As for her socks, she’d cleaned them with her last shower. The happy girl walked back inside the cave, smelling cooking meat and turned the squirrels over, one part was slightly burned, but there were two for each of them so it didn’t really matter. She watched them cook and went to go check on her wet clothing, thinking that it was better the lay them near the fire to dry quicker. She retrieved them and had just laid them near the fire when she heard a gush of wind and a flap of wings. Her face went red with embarrassment as Olivia spun around, pulling down the shirt to cover her underwear.
She glanced at Rykal underneath her overgrown bangs and her eyes widened. Rykal stood there shirtless and Olivia couldn’t help but run her eyes along every defined line of muscle that glistened from the droplets of water glowing from the fire’s light. His pale skin had regained its full shade to the natural sun kiss tone, his body radiating with waves of heat that the cave enveloped. The dark scales that etched upon the sides of his built body with that soft blue glow made Rykal seem so much more alluring. His dark black hair dripped with water as he raked it back and shook out the water, leaving his hair in a state of handsomeness. Olivia had to fight the urge to bite her lip with all her might and cast her gaze elsewhere, feeling a strange sense of passion bubble within her.
“Am I interrupting something?” Rykal asked, using his shirt to dry his hair. It only made Olivia get lost in a short trance of his biceps flexing.
Quickly, Olivia blinked and looked at him with burning cheeks and rapidly nodded her head, stuttering out a mess of words, “C-Could you turn around for a second?”
Rykal obeyed and turned around and again Olivia couldn’t help but stare at how perfectly built his back was. Each line was toned and defined by strong muscles that flexed smoothly when Rykal moved his arm. Olivia watched the water roll down his rippling back and disappeared down his trousers. Olivia had to fight the blush warming her skin as she quickly pulled on her trousers and grabbed the sack.
“I’m done,” she said but felt a pang of guilt when she saw the black fluid surrounding the arrow’s damage.
Rykal turned around and gave her a smug smirk. Olivia narrowed her eyes at him as the blush made her cheeks burn a rosy red. The flustered girl grabbed Rykal’s hand, doing her best to ignore the sparks quivering through her already hot body and sat him down. Rykal leaned against the wall with his legs spread apart, allowing Olivia to sit closer to him. All while Olivia rubbed lotion onto his wounds, the dragon shifter couldn’t