Nine days left. YIKES!
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Words written today: 3,011
Finishing word count: 37,341
Finishing word count: 37,341
Melana retired early that evening, as did the brothers. Alanur and I remained at the table, swapping stories of our distanced pasts, his understandably more vivid than my own. He had war stories, tales of conquering enemies that were seas away. He had lived longer than most veterans, he told me. He found the secret to a long life after war. Alanur leaned in close to me, his breath singing of mead, and said it was to not put your ass where it might get bitten.
I had a good laugh at that. I didn’t have friends like this back home. Patricio was a handful as a Hume, his lack of personal skills and clinginess the reason I never tried finding a girl to date. He’d ruin it one way or another, and I wouldn’t have it be him trying to give me a pep talk of where to stick my member. Alanur was great. Fatherly, hard to read at times, but he had Melana’s interest at heart one hundred percent of the time. I learned he had pushed her study a broad variety of magic while he had no training himself. He preferred barbaric combat, not of that where you could strike an enemy from afar like a coward, as he put it. I took no offense.
I stayed away from the mead that night as I tried to collect my thoughts about Melana and what I had wanted to ask Alanur. He reclined back in his chair.
“Can I ask you something personal?” I said.
He sat erect again and set his hands flat on the table. “Anything.” There was no slur of speech there, as if all the mead had suddenly drained from his body. I didn’t want to know where.
I thought putting it bluntly might be the proper way in Alanur’s company. “Are you and Melana a couple?”
He rubbed his finger under his nose as if stroked an imaginary mustache and grinned. “Do we send that signal?”
“I don’t know,” I said, instantly trying to change the subject. He seemed too well appropriated to the question.
“The answer is no,” he said. “I’ve been around her for a long time. Her body is eighteen. She is older.” He paused and rubbed his finger on the table. “I’ve seen the way you look at her.”
Part of me wanted to run from the cottage. All the sudden, the racks of weapons seemed they could have been aimed at me.
“Before you run away scared, thinking I might not approve, let me give you some advice. You’ve been with a woman, right?”
Do I say yes just to get the conversation rolling? It didn’t matter now. For however long I took to answer that, and it couldn’t have been any longer than five seconds, Alanur suspected the answer.
“Ah,” he said.
“Ah, what?” I asked.
“It’s fine, really. You’re young. Doesn’t matter.”
“You make it sound like it does.”
“Think nothing of it. Anyway, Melana doesn’t put her feelings out in the open like a normal woman you may or may not have bed.”
He put it so fine. I should have told him how she kissed me when we were alone in her chambers.
“It’s not my business to know if she’s been with anyone, either,” he added. “The last thing I want this to become is a father-son talk, for obvious reasons. Just know that she’s like an egg. You have to crack that layer to get to know her. As thin as it might be, she protects her emotions well. As you saw, she was ready to do something desperate when she confronted the polymorph. I have never seen her react so quickly.”
“I don’t want to have to force it out of her,” I said. “Are my feelings for her that far in the open?”
“It’s only the way you look at her. Believe me, when the time comes, I won’t intrude. She deserves a chance to be with someone who can respect her. I think you’ve got a shot.”
I wanted to jump out of the chair and hoot and holler. That would have been all sorts of inappropriate. Instead, I laughed inwardly and looked at the table just to play it safe. Alanur was still her guardian. Silence came between us, my thoughts stirring in all different directions. For a brief second, I imagined her naked and grinned.
Alanur cleared his throat and I instantly looked up.
“You know I’ll have to kill you if you hurt her, though,” he added.
“You are just her guardian, right?”
“Guardian. Mentor. Second father. Whatever you want to call it. I’ll always be around to protect her, but it’ll be nice to have someone else to help me out.”