I shake my head, and I start my usual pace of thought. Xavier plops on the couch beside the unconscious Josie, which brings me back to square one.
I whirl on Xavier. “Okay, listen. There is clearly much that has happened in the past twenty-four hours, and I need an explanation.” I point to the floor. “Now.”
Xavier groans, shoving a hand through his hair. “Shouldn’t Josie tell you this stuff.”
I glare at him.
He waves his hands in the air. “Call me crazy for having just a smidge of respect for this Risen princess. I know you both hate each other, but come on. At least have the patience to hear it from her ears.”
“I..” I trail off, “don’t hate her..”
Xavier leans forward, cupping his ear. “Huh? What was that?”
I glare at him again. “Jackass.”
He shrugs. “Guilty as charged. But just because I am a jackass with you does not mean I will be a jackass with her. Understand. You either hear it from her, or we’ll take it to our grave.”
“Whats the big deal?” I ask.
He shakes his head. “Besides, we have bigger matters to the deal with.” He juts his chin to the door before crossing his arms. “Like Papa bear out there with his little minion.”
“Xavier,” I warn him. “That’s the King you’re talking-”
“Don’t get your knickers in a twist.” He brushes of my threat. “He’s like a dad to me. But you have to admit, you’re father has always been strict on curfew. So for him to be wandering the mansion at this time of night.”
“No, no no.” I stop that train of thought. “He’s the King. He’s my Father.” The Analytic side of me want’s to dissect every question, every notice in my mind. But I have more important things.
Xavier nods, reluctantly. I have no reason to be suspicious. I gesture to the real matter at hand. “Okay, so what’re we going to do about Josie?”
Xavier looks to the sleeping girl beside him, as if he completely forgot she was there. Wouldn’t be the first time.
“Well..” I turn to look at Josie, whose now drooling on her arm. I feel a small smile. She looks kind of-
“Well. I’m off.” Xavier cuts off my thoughts and heads out of my wing of the mansion. I scratch the back of my neck and face Josie. Her cheeks are a scarlet pink, and her breathing is heavy and rapid.
I feel a twinge of regret. She’s in such a state and I totally forgot about her.
I head into my bathroom upstairs, grab a washcloth and soak it in lukewarm water before going back downstairs. I then grab a large mug of cold water and kneel down beside of my sleeping fiance.
I fold the cloth and press it onto her forehead. Me being an expert in war, I was taught how to treat minor conditions if ever needed in the aftermath of the battle field.
She shivers slightly, and pull back a strand of hair from her face, tucking it behind her ear. Then, I tilt her head up so she can sip small bits of the water. Once half the cup is gone I set it down and sit her up, peeling back the large jacket. I pull off her boots and set them by the coffee table.
Only a month ago, I absolutely detested Josie Claire James. But now, I feel a part of me has become tenderhearted towards her. As weak as it is, she isn’t what I thought she would be like.
Feminist, without any respect for me, but she has honored my wishes concerning her return. She isn’t lazy, and she is able to take care of herself. When she jumped, I can’t imagine what she must’ve been thinking. I still can’t label her as Brave or Crazy.
After a few minutes, I feel her cheeks again. Thankfully she isn’t as warm as before. Xavier’s words then flood back to me.
'At least have the patience to hear it from her ears'
As much as I hate to admit it, Xavier is right. Josie wouldn't come here of ill intentions, and she seemed adequate to stay near me.
So confusing, this woman.
I notice the smooth, slim, round curves of her face. Her long lashes and slight upturn of her lips. I feel a strange pull in the pit of my stomach.
What am I doing? Holding this fugitive in my home, lying about her identity, even going as far as to keep her in my own home.
Even I can't answer that question.
I look down at my hand to see the silver engagement ring. I used to hate it, but now I think it a symbol of partnership. Of commitment to keep our worlds together for the sake of our people.
My eyes drift to her own hand, with a smaller, matching ring like my own.
I can't help but wonder what she must've thought, getting all this. It's obvious she hates me, but now.. I'm not at all confident about that.
A small, hysterical chuckle bubbles out of my throat, and I shake my head at myself. At us. We're such a mess..
Josie's head lolls to the side, and a loud snore comes out of her throat. I chuckle, less hysterical, and scoop her up from the couch. Washcloth, drool and all.
I head upstairs to my bedroom, where I lay her down and flop my comforter over her, tucking her in. I always loved when my mother tucked me in as a kid.
Suddenly, hot fingers curls around my wrist, and I gasp, flinching hard, as if I've been burned.
Josie holds my wrist nuzzling it with her nose before pressing her warm cheeks against my skin.
I feel my cheeks flame. And I doubt it's from a very quickly shared fever. After a few moments I loosen my wrist from her grip and head into the bathroom to take a short, cool shower.
Once that's done I head back into my bedroom, where Josie is curled up into a ball. After changing filling the water cup and wringing the washcloth, I grab a pillow from my bed, and a blanket, where I make myself at home on the couch and drift to sleep.
Or at least I try to anyway.