Preyuna tensed up as she rounded the second corner.
He’s going to be there. He’s going to be standing in the middle of the hallway. He’s going to leave a room and be there in front of me. And I will have to deal with him again.
Mark Caten was nowhere in sight.
She was not reassured.
Preyuna flipped her hair over her shoulder and held her head high and defiant. She strode down the hall.
If he does make another unwanted appearance, I will walk past him. I will not acknowledge him. I want my supper. I will not deal with him, no matter what he may say or do. I just want a quiet meal alone.
Of course, if Isellta hadn’t insulted me, I would be walking with him right now. I would have supper with him.
Stupid boy. He doesn’t know how deeply Mark can ruin and corrupt even the best person. Jay is no exception. When Mark gives an order, Jay will obey him. It is his job. It is how Jay is.
Isellta is just a foolish child who doesn’t know or understand anything about how the world here works. It runs on unfairness and cruelty and fighting to stay on top even when it seems impossible. What does Isellta know about any of that?
Preyuna made it to the kitchen door without Mark Caten making any sort of appearance. She turned around and scanned the hall.
Still no sight of him.
“If he’s in the kitchen, I will have to destroy something. I swear I will destroy something.”
She turned forward and entered the kitchen.
He wasn’t in there.
“We really need to get a new loofah.” Dave said as he rubbed the foamy shower gel on Hank’s chest.
Hank smiled softly. “I don’t know about that. I like the feel of your hands on me.” He kissed Dave’s wet forehead. “I always have.”
Dave looked up at him with bright, shining eyes. “I don’t know what I’ve done right in my life to deserve someone as wonderful and as romantic as you.” He lowered his gaze to Hank’s chest. “Mick never liked it when I took a shower with him. The few times he allowed it he would get all mad if I tried to soap him up. He’d say that I was being too pushy. ‘I can soap up my own body. Don’t need your help.’ That’s what he’d say.”
“Babe, why’d you ever stay with him?”
Dave lowered his hands. “I didn’t think anyone else would love me.”
Hank hugged him.
Dave returned the hug with all of his might. “I’m so glad you found me.”
The bathroom door banged open, startling the two men apart.
Hank poked his head around the edge of the shower curtain.
“Ahh!” Mark Caten said. “There you are! I thought you two had evacuated to Mars.”
“Do you mind?” Hank said. “We’re taking a shower. Go away.”
“Tsk! That’s hardly the way to talk to a god like me.”
“Whatever. Go.” Hank pulled the curtain shut and rinsed the soap off his chest.
Dave nearly drooled at the sight of the soap suds sliding down Hank’s skin.
OH! He’s so gorgeous and delicious! I want to just….lick him until we both self-combust! But I guess I’ll have to wait until Caten leaves.
Mark Caten yanked the shower curtain open.
Hank stepped in front of Dave, shielding him. “I told you to go.”
“Of course you did. But what I want comes first. It will always come first because that is just the natural order.” He snapped his fingers. “Guard B, out of the shower. Now. Or we get to see what my dear, dear dark elf can do to your lover.” He made ‘lover’ sound like a crass and dirty word.
“He’s not getting out until you’re out of here.”
“No!” Dave got out of the shower before Hank could stop him.
Mark Caten smiled. It was like an alligator’s smile — cold and distinctly unfriendly.
Hank’s presence gave Dave the courage he needed to keep his head up and his shoulders straight. “Let me get dressed and I’ll be right with you.”
“Hahahahahha! Do you really expect me to leave you two little lovebirds alone? I know you’ll jump back into your lover’s arms as soon as I leave. No. You’ll have to get dressed in front of me.”
Hank got out of the shower and stood in front of Dave again.
“Did you know that Petrov has command over all four elements?” Mark Caten sounded so casual and conversational, but Dave could hear the underlying threat. “Isn’t that interesting? There are very few dark elves with that kind of mastery. Would you care to have a demonstration?”
“Haaaank. Don’t. Please. I’ll dress in front of him. That isn’t the worst thing he could make me do and you know it. It’s okay.” Dave touched his forehead to Hank’s back. “I’m okay with it.” He could feel the tension in Hank’s back muscles increase. “Please, Hank. Please.”
Hank took a deep breath and exhaled. “Okay. But I am not leaving you alone with him.”
Dave wasn’t sure who he meant by “you” or “him”, but he didn’t bother asking. Either way made sense.