Isellta wanted to watch her make the soup, but just standing there fatigued him. He settled down at the kitchen table. He folded his arms on the table and laid his face on top of his hands.
And he stayed like that, listening to the quiet of the room and to the sound of his shivered breathing. His breath was still too warm. His eyes were so warm it hurt to open them. But he could feel the heat even with them closed.
His whole body ached with the need for a good long stretch, but he didn’t want to move.
He didn’t even want to think.
Maelin carefully set the soup bowl on the table. “Here you go, angel.”
Isellta turned his head and chin-propped on his hands. He sniffed the air and caught the wonderfully salty scent of chicken noodle soup. “Mmm. Smells good.”
“Do you want to try some?”
He arched his back, which almost relieved that need to stretch. “mm-hmm.”
“I’ll feed it to you.”
He opened his eyes. “Thank you.” he said softly.
“For always being so nice to me.”
She gave him a sympathetic look. “It is not a problem.” She dipped the spoon into the bowl and scooped up a whole knot of noodles with a bit of broth. “Say ‘ahh’.”
She smiled and put the spoonful in his mouth.
“Mmm! mm!” He ate it and opened his mouth again.
As she lowered the next spoonful to his mouth, he asked, “Are you going to stay with Jay?”
She put the soup in his mouth. “I want to, but I can’t. I will have to leave.”
He raised his head. “Oh. When?”
“I’m going to stay through this coming Sunday. After that…” She shrugged. “I don’t know.” She offered him another spoonful, which he accepted. “I’ve been fighting against that need to leave, but I can’t resist it indefinitely. I will have to give in. I will have to leave.”
“I’ve talked to Jay about it and he understands.”
“But he isn’t happy about it.”
She shook her head.
Isellta gently laid his hand on her arm. “I’m sorry.”
Hildreth grinned. “All right, Miss Surely Shirley Sherry. Get ready to eat fist. Ha!”
Elsie laughed. “Get ready to eat mine, Gregarious Gregory Gorgeous George!”
They stared intently at the TV screen while furiously mashing buttons.
“Ha! And take that and that and…HA! Look at your life bar goin’ on down.”
“I wouldn’t get too cocky there, Mayhew. Look at YOUR life bar.”
“Ahh, shoot. Oh! That reminds me.” He paused the game and went into his character’s inventory. “Oh, look at that. I have brass knuckles.” He tried to equip them. “What? Insufficient level? Shoot. Do I have any healing items? Uhhh. Oh, triple shoot.”
“I told you to stock up before the save point.”
He sighed. “I’m gonna get my tailside kicked all the way to Kentucky.” He unpaused the game.
In only three quick blows, Surely Shirley Sherry knocked out Gregarious Gregory Gorgeous George. She sashayed over to him in her thigh-high boots and kicked him to points unknown off-screen.
“Surely Shirley Sherry is the Supreme Champion and Gregarious Gregory Gorgeous George is the Supreme Chump😝 Try again?”
Hildreth smiled at her. “One more round?”
She put the controller down and stretched her arms in the air. “I want to say yes, but I need to stock up for tonight and get some sleep.”
“Aw, come on.” He laid his hand on her knee. “One more round?”
“Maybe. Or we could go down to your training room and do it for real.”
“Oh, I don’t know. We’ve been doing that all night. It feels good to just sit on the couch and mindlessly mash buttons.”
“What’s the matter, Mayhew? Afraid that I’ll beat your handsome face off?”
“No. I’m afraid I might slip up and give you a black eye, a broken nose, and fifteen missing teeth.”
“Sounds like a challenge to me.”
Hildreth watched Surely Shirley Sherry do her victory prance over and over. He smiled.
“No. I am not going to wear thigh high boots and a skimpy mini skirt when I fight you.”
“Aww. Crushing such a nice fantasy.”
She smirked and pulled him into a kiss.
Hildreth closed his eyes and returned her kiss with a passionate zeal.
I want to climb into her lap.
I want to keep kissing her.
I want to.
He pulled back before he could lose control. “Not so fast there, Vansing. As best as I know, this sure ain’t Sunday.” He ran his fingers through her frizzy black hair. “Besides, you know as well as I do what will happen if we try to go too far.”
“The end of the world?”
“Hmm, yes. That. And a fleet of dragonmurrs will take up residence in the chimney and set the whole place on fire.”
“Idiot. No one’s seen a dragonmurr in over two hundred years.”
He shrugged. “Doesn’t necessarily mean that they aren’t around. It just means they’ve found better places to live.”
She nodded. “That’s possible.” She stood and pulled him up to his feet. “That’s why we should go downstairs and spar.”
“I don’t see the connection, but okay.”
“And don’t just stand there, blocking. I want you to really fight me.”
Hildreth smiled. “As long as you don’t pull any punches.”
Elsie scoffed. “As if I would.”