Forgiving (Chapter 30)
The goddess must have decided my life has become too boring and has decided to curse me with a series of surprises.
My cousin Henik is back. He sits stiffly on the other side of my desk, swirling my liquor in his cup, taking a sip. The shadows of dusk slowly fall in the corners of my office giving it a serious atmosphere. My anger building at every moment that passes without him apologizing for his betrayal.
We grew up together, both being only children, Sean wouldn’t show up until much later. People who didn’t know better often mistook us for brothers as we share the same dark hair and dark eyes. He’s only a year younger than me. We were close, best friends really. Yet time has not been kind to our friendship. Although I know his assignment was not his choice, it still irks me that he spends his time working to support trade of women.
Fed up with the silence, I finally ask, “To what do I owe the pleasure?”
“We had some luck in Erbehude, they needed more priestesses because they have been holding so many festivals for the goddess. Some shit about seeking her assistance to ward off Munter” He tips back his glass of liquor drinking the last sip before setting the empty glass on the table.
“They need to read the holy texts more; the goddess doesn’t protect you from war”
He shrugs his shoulders, “I suppose they want all the help they can get”
“Anyways, that is why you are in Haringshude, why are you here?”
Henik purses his lips no doubt trying to come up with some lame-ass excuse, “I needed to explain myself”
I raise my eyebrows and wait.
After a few moments of silence he begins, “Your parents asked me to look out for a female that would suit you. Ivy caught my attention um… and yeah, I knew she would be a good match for you so I contacted your mother and well… you know the rest of the story.”
“So you did it because my mother asked you to?” I sound irritated and I am. My cousin is many things, but mindless isn’t one of them. If anything he thinks too much about things- a family trait I guess.
He is silent again for a few moments, “No, I knew a man in your position needed to have a female and I knew after Julia you wouldn’t get one yourself.”
“It wasn’t your decision” I force out. Everyone around me sticks their noses in my fucking business, meddles in my life.
“No” he concedes, “and I had no intention of doing as your mother asked until I met Ivy. I knew when I met her she was your type. Tell me, how is it going with her?”
I think of her. I think of her soft smile when someone says something to her, and her wide curious eyes when she learns something new, her soft roses scent and her small frame wrapped in silky fabrics. Her perky breasts- perfect for my hands to caress. Her curvy hips perfect for gripping. Fuck me, she is exactly my type.
“How do you think?” I ask not wanting to get into the details of our non-relationship. Fuck me. Does nobody else think of the repercussions of the way they threw us together? Of course she isn’t going to be happy, she didn’t choose me. Despite spending so much time around females my cousin doesn’t really understand them.
We fall into silence again.
“Will you be staying for dinner?” I finally force out to which he raises his brows in surprise at the invite. It’s not for me, I’m done with this conversation, but I know Kin is eager to talk to him and I won’t rob him of the opportunity. The shit I do for friends.
He gives one nod.
“Alright, let’s go to the library while we wait for everyone to join us”
As we enter the hallway silently and begin silently walking towards the library. My mind turns to the other bombshell I experienced today; the shock Apothen heaved upon me. It is not a secret that I have no love for the High Priest and Apothen suggested replacing him with his nephew, a priest of the local goddess temple. I don’t think the nephew could be any worse, but it’s not like I know him.
Removing the High Priest would be risky- too risky really. I’ve already seen his power in action and that was just for a spending bill that was already going to pass. Who knows what he could get his devoted followers to do for something truly important. Most of my people I know will be fine if something were to happen to me, other jobs are possible to come by.
But now I have Ivy to worry about. I almost shutter when I think what would happen to her if something happened to me.
“Opf!” I hear from beside me.
“I’m sorry!” I hear Ivy’s sweet voice exclaim, “Oh Mr. Hertliz!”
I look over to where Henik had been walking to see Henik holding Ivy at arm’s length. His hands gripping her upper arms.
“Did I hurt you?” he asks her gently, looking her over. Fuck me, I see a glint of appreciation in his eye. Did he pick a female for me that he wanted for himself?
“No no! I’m sorry I ran into you.” She replies peering up at him, “It’s good to see you! Will you be joining us for dinner?”
“Yes Giddean already-”
I’ve had enough of this. Him looking at her like that. Him touching her. It reaches deep inside of me and touches some primal reflex that I cannot control. Possessiveness that I don’t have any right to feel and I definitely don’t understand.
Before it even crosses my mind what I am doing, I take a step closer and place a hand on the small of Ivy’s back. Startled she looks up at me through her long lashes and I am immediately lost in her wide eyes. It feeds a part of me that I had long forgotten, a part that I had buried.
Henik instantly lets go of her arms and takes a step back. Good. Good he knows his place. I have to control myself so I don’t sneer at him. She’s been here only a week and I’m already a possessive asshole. And I don’t care. I really don’t.
But what prevents me are her eyes, looking at me questioning. Her warmth seeping through her dress into my hand.
“It seems that you have no reason to be angry, cousin.” Henik smirks.