Leomi returns in the middle of the afternoon with the travois, the way she slowly opens the door makes me tenser than if she stomped into the house. I affect a calm expression as I watch her carry inside what she brought back.
A small pile of straw, a bundle of firewood, and the boar meat tied with a small assortment of vegetables. Her expression surprisingly alleviates once she joins me to work on the table, in silence.
Those are mixed signals there, she clearly likes working with me but whatever is on her mind probably involves us and it isn’t positive or she would have spoken when she entered.
Either way, the fact I noticed is making the atmosphere a bit heavy. I do my best to focus on the work at hand and push my uneasiness away for a while until we finish the table, which seems to be her intention. As I hammer down the last few nails, I realize that not only do I hate this awkwardness but that it’s only going to get worse.
I decide to start being forward about some things, to clear the air of what we have to discuss and stop lying to her by omission so much. I settle in a chair to rest my sore body while Leomi flips the table on its feet and makes the last checks.
“The eyes.” I speak up, startling her a little.
“Jess.” Leomi says, a warning in her voice.
“I’ll give you a choice, Leomi. You either sit down on my lap and listen to me until the point where you can’t anymore, or you can go take a walk.” I inform her. “You don’t have to be understanding.” Because you can’t. “You can even hit me, but I want to try to hide as little as possible from you, to tell you everything we can handle.”
“… we have two weeks of peace, should we do this now?” Leomi asks hesitantly.
Her response makes me glad, it means she wants these answers, but it doesn’t help with how nervous I feel about the conversation I’m about to launch myself into. It could hurt us, but hiding it would hurt us no less.
“I’m not just going to listen.” She warns me.
“That’s fine, I do want to hear your opinions.” I say with a thin smile.
Leomi half-turns and stands in the middle of the room like a statue, apparently stuck between me and the door as she makes a decision. After a while, she decisively walks over to me and drops on my lap.
I pass my arm around her waist for courage and comfort. She takes hold of my hand in her left while wrapping her right arm around my neck. Damn, she’s more than a head taller when sitting on my lap, that’s ridiculous.
“Please, keep your hatred out of it.” I tell her apprehensively.
“Of course, this is about us.” Leomi responds fiercely, placing her chin atop my head.
That answer isn’t what I was looking for but I keep silent. She’s being possessive, excluding the Rykz, no Celyz, rather than setting aside her resentment. I shake my head and focus.
“I went blind when the parasite was removed.” I utter abruptly. Leomi stiffens instantly. “It was my fault. I was told of the dangers involved with that limb but it gave me a way to sense my surroundings so I chose to rely on it instead of using the tools the Rykz gave me to enforce some limits.”
“Rh.” Leomi exhales between her teeth, her grip on my hand tightens and her arm clenches around my neck. Her anger clearly surpasses her surprise at the revelation of the Rykz sense, likely because the sense itself isn’t news to her.
“It was my reckless choice to make, and I made it conscious of what I was risking.” I utter firmly.
“What about us?” Leomi throws out with difficulty, her voice split between rage and grief.
“There was no us at the time, kitten, only two broken incomplete beings.” I return back in a harsh tone. “It’s what I wanted. The Rykz told me many times to lead from the safety of the rear and act in secret but I chose otherwise. It’s who I am.”
“Yes.” She acknowledges with deep sadness. I give her time, seconds that turn into minutes. “It’s who you are, the Jessica I love and admire.” Leomi finally says, grasping at my hand. “But, why are you? I want to know. Tell me.” She encourages tenderly in spite of sounding on the verge of tears.
“We’ll get to that.” I heartlessly respond. Leomi rubs her chin on my head, signifying her support and agreement. “When presented with the consequences, I made another decision for myself but it profoundly involved you.” I tell her.
I plan to talk about my eyes but the reasoning applies to the parasite. I’m beyond confident she’ll be able to make that connection but decide not to directly mention it to give her the chance to breach that subject at a time of her choice rather than imposing the timing on her.
“What was done to you?” Leomi whispers under her breath.
“It’s what I did to myself.” I insist, remaining silent until she briefly nods. “I chose to alter my eyes to fix them.”
“You didn’t even consider trying something else?” Leomi asks, sounding hurt and angry.
“The possibility of success would have been remote considering the root of the problem involved the Rykz.” I tell her. “Who could I trust with the knowledge to fix this?” Leomi starts shaking so I hurriedly continue. “The Rykz themselves wanted to return me to normal, I refused for fear that undoing what was done would do more damage than a simple correction.” I hate the fact that the conversation turned to the Rykz but it was likely unavoidable.
“Why, why do you treat yourself so?” My kitten questions again, grasping at me.
“The reason why I cannot accept these handicaps is that they make me too weak to do what I must or be with you.” I utter, afraid that the implied mention of the parasite will infuriate her or make her reject me in the same way she did Liz when she found out with Grace’s clues.
“I would have taken care of you, found a solution.” Leomi mourns with a heavy voice.
“I wouldn’t be able to handle being at your mercy.” I firmly deny.
“I’m aware neither of us can win, I would never go too far.” She argues, continuing to throw the conversation off-topic. I let her, after all those things are good for us to say out loud.
“It isn’t enough. We work in balance, if it tips too much one way, we crumble.” I explain in a rough voice. “You know or I would be chained up in a dungeon right now.” I add in a joking way that undermines the seriousness of my claim.
“No, you wouldn’t be.” Leomi denies, to my surprise. “It’s a somewhat sick fantasy of mine that I have not been able to get rid of because I have the power to fulfill it. But, I love you so I want to see you free and happy. Putting you in chains wouldn’t be exhilarating beyond a few hours.”
Her voice grows rough at the end. It surprises me, although not much, that the mere mention excites her. I feel her arm move away from my neck and travel down, squeezing between my back and the chair to reach for my behind.
Her ability to get turned on now feels like it’s a defensive mechanism akin to my raging outbursts or ability to delude myself. Of course, it isn’t always the case but the situation makes it likely. Her fingers caress my lower back, where she wrote her name. I smile fondly at being reminded but don’t let it distract me.
“My being blind would have destroyed us.” I tell her gently. “Same as it did when I was so weak I didn’t challenge your arrogance as you treated me like a lamb. At the time, I should have demanded to know your plans to escape the Rykz. I bear some responsibility for giving you the initiative and not fighting to seize you.”
My words shake Leomi who puts her arm back around my neck. She squeezes me against her without pity or restraint, like a vise. I withstand it without a word, no matter how painful the bruises she inflicted on me get under the increasing pressure.
“You don’t.” Leomi murmurs after a while, releasing me. “It wasn’t in your nature.”
“Oh, no. It was.” I refute. “I changed a lot, but I always had it in me to fight.”
“You did, but we’re talking about clashing wills.” Leomi says with affection.
“Ah.” I ponder. “You’re right.” I acknowledge. “But I maintain some blame is mine.”
“A lot of it, I should punish you…” She whispers. “… later.” She takes a deep breath, apparently hinting for me to continue.
I gaze at the floor which isn’t truly one. The ground is soil, dirt, wood-chips. This is where I came from. I feel no shame but I do have the desire to move past it, and not for me but for her. I am disappointed in myself for how little I am giving this exceptional woman.
It isn’t even about what she wants, or what she is used to. It’s about my desire to give her the best in this world. I would be the same way if we were both low born who are used to this kind of poverty. Whatever her eye catches, dress or jewelry, I want to offer it to her.
Yet, I am excited by how much I took from her and how much she took from me, how we allow and encourage each other to go past what would be sane boundaries. What other being would willingly jump into the bottomless abyss of love with me?
How I miss Celyz, I wish she could be here with us. She’s safety, peace, but I only love her more for it. It is because of the two of them that I even have the courage to be myself with little restraint. It both saddens and amuses me that both my lovers would tell me to have restraint instead.
Leomi doesn’t try to disturb me but I can feel her breath blowing on my small braids. I’m going to return to Meria when Leomi leaves. Return and not go because that is where my immediate future lies, I came back here to say my goodbyes.
I need the environment to work on my constructs and the coin to spoil Leomi, and perhaps Celyz although I’m not sure what she would want that money could buy. Either way, my ambitions cannot be realized here.
“You wanted to know why I am me.” I speak up.
“A ridiculous question.” Leomi notes in humor but with an apprehensive tone.
“Power.” I utter this single word which causes her to stop breathing for a moment.
“I, I understand.” My Lady utters.
“No, you do not.” We refute in the strongest possible voice and words. “We are not a good person for the simple reason that we do not want to become one. We do not like most beings or seek their company or welfare. We are selfish, greedy and we not only accept these defects but embrace them because that is the path we found to rid ourselves of the weakness that crippled us long before we lost an arm. The power we seek is one to destroy that which threatens or upsets us, unlike the you and her who seek to protect that which you find important.” Leomi gnashes her teeth so hard the sound sends a chill down my spine.
I feel her nails bite into my flesh, belly and chest. I don’t react, willing to suffer the consequence of mentioning Celyz whatever it might be. It also serves as a measure of her hatred for my other lover.
Before witnessing Leomi with that Vuskyt runic broadsword, I would have thought the two would never get along, not to mention agree to meet and discuss me, even if they both obliquely admitted that the other cares for me.
But that event serves as proof I can trust that there is something beyond jealousy and condemnation between them. The question remains whether that something can be relied on to breach the divide, without interfering directly in their relationship no matter how much I want to.
Leomi starts dragging her nails against my skin, the hand on my belly traveling down while the other moves up. I grit my teeth and remain immobile, accepting her twisted reaction like she does my insane ones.
“I need to know that I can hurt you right now because I have to touch you.” Leomi utters in a low growling voice, coming as close to asking for permission as she can in her state. I tremble, unable to help my fear of the vulnerability I know I’ll experience. I am no coward.
“Do what you have to.” I respond.
Leomi’s hands slip by the underside of my shirt and the collar to directly touch my flesh. More than the lack of nails scraping my skin, I’m surprised that she isn’t getting off my lap to get into a more aggressive position.
But it does not help me withstand her touch. It feels like sheer violence on my body without physical harm when she caresses the depression in my flesh where one of her subjects cut my belly, I experience a mental jolt of pain every very time her fingertips find a scar.
It’s bad but not as horrible as it could be because she isn’t probing but caressing. Her right hand itself is merely sliding along the injuries her mother gave me on my right shoulder.
I even manage to take in a breath of air as I realize that she’s massaging rather than assessing. Yet, my muscles remain hard and stiff with no sign of relaxing. The state I am in is simply something I’m not ready to share with her.
“Your wounds don’t merely excite me because it is proof of how indomitable you are as a warrior. They make me feel prideful that a woman such as you keeps making the choice to be with me.” Leomi murmurs in a tone that shocks me because of the affection contained within.
Her left hand suddenly ventures up to my stomach and brushes against the dozens of crisscrossing jagged scars. I lurch backward in an arc, lifting Leomi up as my body revolts.
I almost fall off but she pulls her hands back immediately and takes hold of the chair to stabilize us. She merely lets me settle back down before sending her hands back under my shirt, but exploring a lot more slowly and carefully.
“No one can make you feel like this. The same way no one else could get you to overcome it.” She affirms in an odd tone of voice that mixes aggression, affection, and satisfaction. “You fought for me, you’ll keep fighting for me. All these scars, you withstood them all for me and it fills me with pride.” Leomi declares in a vibrating sensual voice that makes me realize how aroused I am.
She suddenly holds her hands still, one over my belly, one on the left side of my chest where my other breast should be. She clearly chose those locations for how adversely they affect me. The meaning is transparent, she loves what she feels.
“Can you get used to it if I leave my hands there for a while?” She asks me gently.
I cannot comprehend how she can speak like this while hurting me and exciting me so much but the tone gives me the impetus I need to nod despite my incapability to determine whether I truly can.
Every one of my heartbeats resonates harshly with the places she’s touching, like fresh blood is pouring in and making my flesh more sensitive. Yet, the agony is progressively becoming more bearable as her words echo in my mind.
It’s obvious that Leomi was avoiding to speak of Celyz, that to Leomi, the Princess doesn’t enter our relationship because she was a bystander to our struggle to save the Izla and our relationship. The word ‘bystander’ itself is because I love Celyz, my other lover would use much worse terms to describe her adversary in love.
What Leomi said is true, I fought for her, these scars bother me because of her, I am overcoming them now thanks to her, I would only allow her to treat me like this, only she would get me wet by harming me with loving caresses.
I was foolish enough to think I could accept Celyz if she became a little more like Leomi, I realize now that it would have destroyed us the same way that it would destroy Leomi and me if one of us was victorious over the other.
Leomi is right but she’s missing the point. I don’t have to fight Celyz which is why I fell for her, why I’ll never forget her, why I’ll never fear losing her even as she travels leagues away, why our slightly forceful engagement doesn’t bother me in the least but reassures me.
Celyz and Leomi are very different. I am regretful my oak had to maneuver like she did to obtain the assurance she needed not to be forgotten. If it was my kitten who acted as such, there would be no remorse but exciting revenge to prepare.
“Satisfied?” I finally manage to ask.
“Never.” Leomi shakes her head. “Not even close. You?”
“No, but I want to speak to you, not have sex.” I utter in a gruff tone, unable to stop my aggressive desire from seeping out.
Merely uttering the last word is an admission she has me pent-up, a dangerous one because of my current fragile state of mind. I feel tense, full of a primal lust I haven’t felt since the night we spent in the tent, the desire to take and be taken in a rough way, but I don’t feel mentally stable enough to handle that kind of entanglement.
Leomi pulls her hands away in a flash to return to her previous position with her arms on my waist and around my neck. Once again her actions stun me, I thought she planned to get me where I am now to enjoy my torment, it seemed like I was wrong even though I was right in expecting her to react violently to the mention of Celyz.
“Why?” I ask. She inclines her head down to my eye level and throws me a puzzled look.
“You told me to sit on your lap or walk out, Jay.” Leomi replies teasingly with false-innocence. She’s unfathomable, I really don’t understand how she works inside.
“Kitten.” I insist.
“It wouldn’t be what either of us wants.” Leomi tells me with a sigh. It sounds like she didn’t want to admit this. I take a long while to settle before pushing.
“Ah.” I nod. “Tormenting me is attractive to you but it’s not a goal?”
“It’s…” Leomi pauses. “Its exciting because its wrong. We don’t need that right now.”
“You want it but can’t sustain it?” I question, thinking of what she said about putting me in chains.
“Jay, I don’t know myself.” Leomi shakes her head. “All I desire right now is to get to a point where we can touch each other and we won’t get there if I hurt you.” I feel a warmth in my chest at hearing the reason why Leomi has been so restrained, but at the same time I don’t like it.
“I don’t want you to walk on eggshells with me. Be free, I’ll stop you if need be.” I tell her honestly.
“I am free.” Leomi reassures me, kissing the top of my head. “I want us to become even closer than we were before, more than anything.”
My heart melts as these words resonate it, the pain lingering in my flesh from her harsh exploration vanishes. I slip my hand inside her vest and pull her shirt up to rest my palm on her firm stomach.
“Revenge because you shouldn’t be allowed to be so sweet.” I explain, reaching up to kiss her exposed neck.
Leomi makes a stiff nod. I don’t mind it, I gently follow the lines formed by her chiseled muscles with my fingers. Her flesh grows gradually harder and her breaths difficult but, after five minutes of hardship, Leomi mellows out a little.
“Your hand is freakishly hot.” She says dreamily.