Concern (Chapter 35)
“No, no… no.” I shake my head violently. I feel like all the air has been sucked out of the room. What would happen to me if they thought I had a secret lover?
“I’m just kidding Ivy. I know you’re never allowed out on your own. I’d be impressed if you managed a secret lover already” He smiles at me like it was a joke. Then his blue eyes drop to my lips. Suddenly I feel uncomfortable as I realize I’m alone with him and he is in close proximity. Sitting here alone with him on the leather couch. I feel my nervousness rise and I take a quick look at the door judging if I could escape.
I feel caged, stuck, static. I feel him pressing up against by back. Bile rises in my throat…
His eyes return to mine. He frowns with creases suddenly appearing between his expressive eyes.
“Does Giddean? I mean… I didn’t think, but does Giddean hurt you?”
I laugh. I laugh hard. I can’t stop laughing. It’s so inappropriate, but I can’t seem to stop. Giddean barely talks to me; he doesn’t devote enough time to hurt me.
“No-ooo” I make out through my giggles. The ridiculousness of it snaps me out of my dark thoughts. Somehow the Captain is the only one who triggers them, maybe because he is the only one who really spends time alone with me, who really talks to me. Well, other than James, but I don’t feel threatened by James. James is little more than a teenager.
The Captain watches me before smirking a little, “So, then why are you running?”
I come down from my laughter and I just look at him. I’m not sure how to describe that I just need to do something- anything about this messed up situation.
I look down at my hands fisted on my lap and almost whisper, “I need to go home.”
When he doesn’t respond, I peek up at him under my lashes to see his blue eyes one me.
“I can’t get you home.” The Captain says solemnly, “but if you promise me to give it a go with Giddean for six months-“
“six months?” I interrupt incredulously.
“Six months” he confirms, “I will help you escape elsewhere on Pinn”
I look down again at my clenched fists. It was actually a generous offer in many ways.
“Why-?” I begin before I can stop myself.
“My-“he begins before he stops to clear his throat “I don’t like the idea of you being stuck in a bad relationship. Giddean and I, well, we’ve never had any problems but I don’t know if that just translates to other relationships...”
I looked at him, the sunny soldier, his face scrunched with concern. And I grew curious.
“Captain, do you have a partner?”
He shifted in his seat looking uncomfortable, “It uh… works a bit differently in the military”
He slapped the book on his lap closed in one loud clap, put on his brightest smile, and says in a far too cheery voice: “That is a great story for another day.”
“I have time no-”
“It must be lunch time. Let’s see if Giddean will let us pull James away for a little break” He sets the book beside him of the table and jumps up from the couch like he discovered it’s covered in fire ants.
He holds out his hand towards me in an offer of assistance. I take it, not because I wanted to rush to lunch, but because the Captain was clearly sensitive about having a partner. And he is kind, offering me an escape. His hand is large and rough, I imagine sword fighting or shooting or whatever kind of weapons they have here- I should actually ask.
He jerks me up from my spot and I crash into him.
I smile and take a step away, letting go of his hand. He seems a bit shocked and lets me without any resistance. Because he is shorter than Giddean, I don’t think of him as such, but he is a tall man. Very tall I realize as I look up into his bright blue eyes.
I hear someone clearing their throat.
“James? We were just about to find you for some lunch” the Captain speaks confidently flashing his signature grin.
I turn around in time to see James standing just inside the door to the hallway, his eyebrow raised at the Captain incredulously.
“Mrs. Senator, your mother-in-law has requested you have lunch with her tomorrow. What should I tell her?” He says in an almost clipped voice as if I have forgotten that by having a mother-in-law, I have a partner.
“Uh.. sure” I reply. I can’t say I’m looking forward to seeing Linda again. Ugh. I’ll probably have to listen to how wonderful Giddean is for a couple of hours.
James nods, “Lunch is ready. I’ll walk you to the dining room.”
“Oh! I should clean this up” I look around me at all the books thrown about the room. I grab the book from the couch and then crouch to grab the ones on the floor. I can’t believe the mess I have made in only a few hours to the once orderly room. I’m sure Giddean would be pissed; I can imagine the deep frown marring his handsome face.
“You can leave it, I’ll have someone pick it up” James says tersely. This makes me look up to his young face. He has always come across as friendly and I have never, in my short time knowing him, seen him so tense. His arm is out as he waves me over to him.
“Okay…” I say as I stand back on my feet and walk to him. I fall in line next to him, hoping my compliance smooths over whatever has him ruffled.
James turns and I see him give the Captain a scolding look before walking abruptly out of the library.
I turn to see the Captain just shrugs his shoulders and throws an innocent smile.