Completely exhausted, she laid down on the soil and tried to catch her breath. Vrox rested beside her, staring at the sky that had witnessed their naughtiness.
“What in the world... was that?”
Vrox shifted south, resting his head on her covered belly.
“I do not know. I felt like I was on fire.”
She skimmed her fingers through his short, curled hair. “Do you feel better now?”
Vrox chuckled. “Only slightly, but I know that you need rest, so I will keep my paws off you.”
Kira hated how the mystery was thickening.
Give him time. He’ll open up to you eventually.
When she sighed heavily, the remains of Vrox’s visit gushed between her legs. The sensation made her change her mind. They had shared each other’s bodies, procreated a life. They shouldn’t be keeping secrets about each other’s health.
“I need to know what’s going on,” she pushed. “I’m sorry. I know you don’t want to talk about it, but this is important.”
Vrox remained silent.
He moved off her and picked her up, carrying her deeper into the woods.
“I do not know what is wrong, and I did not want to worry you,” he admitted. While his words were directed at her, his gaze was kept straight ahead.
He didn’t know what was wrong? What in the world did that mean?
“Well... does anything hurt?” she asked, skimming a hand over his scaled arm. “Maybe I can make you a paste? Did you tell your brothers? Is this what you and Akdronis were arguing about?”
Panic began to shimmy down her air pipe to join her fetus in her belly.
“This is why I did not want to speak about it,” Vrox explained as he lifted her higher. “I am not in pain, Kira. I am... energized. I do not know how to channel the antsiness other than by burying it inside your sheathe.”
“Energy?” she echoed. “Like adrenaline?”
“This does not translate.”
“It’s a hormone. I’m assuming you have a similar endocrine system as humans since we’re sexually compatible. Adrenaline gives you a momentary boost of energy.”
He shook his head. “This is not momentary. Ever since last night, I have feel restless. It does not end.”
She scanned her brain for possible explanations. Could this be a second round of puberty? Was that even possible? Vrox was already oozing with masculinity.
“Did this happen during your scaling when you were a boy?”
Vrox looked down at his bicep, setting his jaw before continuing to look ahead.
“Yes, but not to this extent. Last night, Akdronis...”
“Yes?” she encouraged.
“He noticed that something was wrong with me. He wanted me to tell the others, but I saw no reason in it. If I do not know what is happening, then the others will not know either.”
“You don’t know that. What about Ni’ev? He reads a lot, right? Shouldn’t he know something?”
It was then that she realized that she was digging her nails into his shoulders, the idea of losing him driving her to desperation. She relaxed her hold, not wanting to hurt him.
“They do not know nearly as much about healing as I do. They must remain focused on protecting you and Nebula. I do not need them distracted.”
“But what if you die!”
She bit back the urge to sob like a helpless child.
“That is nonsense. Must I remind you that I am in my prime? I will not die easily.”
She pouted and began to sulk. She knew better than anyone that Vrox was in “his prime.” The evidence was dripping between her thighs.
“Will you tell me if a new symptom appears?”
He sighed. “Is that necessary?”
“Yes! I need to make sure you’re okay!”
“Kira,” Vrox thundered, racking an earthquake through her. “You must breathe, or I will end this conversation. You cannot stress.”
She took a breath as he demanded.
"Okay, okay. I’m cool. Now, promise me that you will tell me if something else appears.”
He nodded. “I promise. Look, we are here.”
She looked forward and found a vast lake that separated the jungle in half. Once Vrox gently placed her down, she dipped a toe in the water.
"Wow, that looks deep.”
Vrox nodded. “It is. Crossing it with you, Nebula, and the beasts will be tricky. The surface reaches my shoulders, so it will submerge you short Terrans.”
“We can swim,” Kira suggested.
“No. The current is unpredictable. We will carry you two across.”
When she lifted her skirt to examine her thighs, Vrox grinned proudly at the white that covered them. With a snort, Kira kneeled by the riverbank and began to rinse herself.
“What have I told you about kneeling? I can do this for you,” Vrox reprimanded, reaching for her.
Kira was quick to swat his hands away. “I’m pregnant, not disabled. What is it with you guys and kneeling, anyway?”
“It is the highest display of respect an Ezronian can offer, and it may injure you.”
She shook her head as she continued scrubbing. “Until I’m bloated like a beachball that can’t find her center of gravity, I can kneel just fine.”
Vrox grumbled his disagreement and settled with gripping her free arm, afraid that she would topple into the water.
"Okay. We can return to camp now.”
He nodded, reaching to lift her. The only reason she let him was she was bare-foot. Now that she knew something was off with Vrox, she’d try her hardest to avoid straining him.
Their silent walk back to the camp gave her time to stitch together a thought.
"Hey, why don’t you teach me how to use a sword?”
Vrox’s eyes widened as if she just insulted his mother.
"Zox. No. That is unnecessary. Out of the question.”
She groaned, not surprised by his headstrong opposition. “Knowing how to use a weapon could come in handy...”
“Terran!” Vrox interjected. “At this rate, it will not be this mysterious condition that will kill me, but your stubbornness. It is ridiculous for you to wield a sword. There are six males that can do it for you.”
“It will just be some self-defense lessons. Come on, just in case. You never know what this crazy wilderness will throw at us. What if we get separated? How will I defend myself?”
“I have lived in these jungles for over twenty snowfalls. I know what will come our way. Allow Ezron’s only pregnant female to wield a sword? Absurd! Zox!”
She murmured the rest of her complaints. While she understood the urge to want to protect the only pregnant woman on the planet, she wasn’t a worthless rag doll, or stupid. She’d obviously be careful as she dealt the sharp weapon. She already mastered the skill of curing and dying furs, and was ready to tackle another challenge. Somehow, someway, she’ll convince Vrox to teach her.
Once they returned to camp, the boys threw smirks their way. Meanwhile, Nebula kept her gaze away from Vrox’s very naked thighs.
Kira all but flew out of Vrox’s arms and into their tent, where she changed her dress. She tuned into Vrox’s conversation. He was talking about crossing the river with the others, explaining that getting the beasts across will be difficult.
Once Ni’ev questioned who would carry Nebula across, silence covered the camp. No one wanted to touch the girl and risk a brawl with Ak, but Nebula would rather drown than let Ak touch her.
“I will do it,” Vrox declared. “I will get Kira across first, and then come for her.”
Kira sighed with relief when she didn’t hear a roar of anger.