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Waking in a Changed World

A gurgling cough woke me, bringing with it a mouth full of bloody phlegm.

“Here,” someone said handing me a tissue.

“Thanks,” I rasped, after spitting out the foul tasting goo.

Trying to catch my breath I looked to the person who’d given me the tissue.

Seeing Aric so close I gasped, sending myself into another round of coughing. Suddenly, memories of the night before flooded back to me.

I’d hit him, I’d yelled at him, dear god he’d fed from me.

“It’s okay,” he said, when I tried to move away from him. "I'm not angry anymore.

“Liberty,“ he said, his voice soft and calming, “I’m glad to see you’re awake. I was worried about you.”

I couldn’t help but shrink away from his hand as he reached for my face.

“And I see you remember what happened last night,” he sighed, letting his hand drop away, looking dejected.

“Stay in bed as long as you need to,” he said, taking a cup from the nightstand and offering it to her. “Let me know when you’re ready to eat and I will have something brought up for you.”

Taking the cup with trembling fingers I accidentally dropped it, cringing when it shattered on the floor.

Instinctively I flinched away, ready for whatever punishment a broken glass would get me.

"Liberty," Aric said softly, his hand caressing my cheek instead of striking it. "Look at me."

Taking a chance I opened my eyes.

He didn't look angry, just sad.

"I'm sorry about what happened last night," he said, sitting on the edge of the bed, "I have no excuse for my behavior.

"I can only apologize over and over again for what I did," he sighed, his hand coming to rest on her leg. "Last night, I received some news that angered me greatly, and I took that anger out on those around me.

"There is no excuse I can give for my behavior," he sighed. "I just hope in time you can forgive me."

Clearing my throat, I took a deep, painful breath.

"What news?" I asked.

"My father is going to force me to marry Josephine," Aric sighed, absently taking my hand into his.

"I'm sorry," I said, coughing again. "After what you said about her last night I gather she's not your favorite person."

"How do you do that?" he asked, looking at me curiously.

"Do what?" I ask, thinking longingly of water.

As if he read my thoughts, Aric rose and got another cup of water from the bathroom.

As I sipped from it, he swept up the shards from the first glass I'd dropped.

"Would you like more?" he asked when I had emptied it.

"No," I said, trying to fight the tickle in my throat, "but thank you."

Taking it from me, he set it aside before settling back on the edge of the bed.

"So, how do you go from exuding absolute fear of me to giving a damn that I am having to marry my ex?" he asked intrigued.

"I don't know," I laughed, regretting it since it sent me into a painful coughing fit.

"I have a surprise for you," Aric said, turning his head at a knock at the door.

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