Sleep came and so did the dreams. It wasn’t just dreams of the blue eyed monster, there were red and orange. The first strike landed against my back and I felt the sting in the real world and my eyes shot open.
I wove air, earth, fire and water and fed it to the new scar that would form. I could feel the skin knitting together and I grimaced in pain. It wasn’t that it hurt, but it was unnatural.
I got up out of bed and got a drink of water before glancing at my phone. It was 3am. I’d woken before time. I remembered my promise but while I had a moment, I set a new ring tone and text alert for Sage’s number. Then I hit call and waited for the other man to answer.
It was the fourth ring before Sage picked up groggily, “Nox? You okay?”
I nodded. “Yeah. Didn’t get through the sequence of the dream tonight. I woke up on the first lash.”
I heard Sage sit up. “You hurt yourself?”
“Skin broke. I healed it, no new scar will be there.”
Sage sighed. “Except the emotional one.”
I laughed into the phone. “I think those will be there even if I wasn’t hurting myself in my sleep. I’m okay though, really.”
“I know you are. You feel better?”
I smiled. “Yes. I like talking to you.” I sighed. “Raising a kid will throw a kink in my schedule.”
“What would you be doing now?” Sage asked.
“I would go for a run. Or lift weights. I could do yoga or bodyweight in the living room.”
“You are a health nut, aren’t you?” Sage teased.
“I am. I’ll do that then make breakfast early I guess.”
“What time is breakfast?”
I chuckled. “6?”
“I can make that and still get to work on time.” Sage said.
“Then I will see you at 6.”
“Six then. I’m going to bed again. You get all sweaty and chef-like and I’ll see you soon. Night, Nox.”
I smiled. “Night, love.”
I heard Sage chuckling as I hung up the phone.
I sat down on the floor and began the breathing exercises in child pose that started off my morning yoga. It was good to de-stress and detox. I should have done this last night. But it’s to late for that now.
I moved on to my hands and knees and took a deep breath and lifted my chest and rear into cow pose I let out the breath and tucked my chin into my chest and rounded my back into cat pose. I could feel the stretch in my back.
My routine was always the same. I found something that worked to remove the nightmares from my system. Table top to downward dog into knee to nose pose. Downward dog into flip your dog and then to a side plank and returning to downward dog to begin a regular plank. I minded my breathing, focusing on nothing more than my body working through each pose.
It cleared my mind as it stretched my body. Plank lowered into four-limb staff pose. Upward-facing dog was next and I could feel the stretch again in my legs and back. Returning to downward facing dog.
Breathe in. Breathe out. I stretched though more poses and returned to child pose to begin again for a second and third time before my body felt cleanses of the nightmares. I rolled over on to my back and stretched out on the floor and stared up at the dark ceiling. I would have to rearrange my schedule to get everything in. I wasn’t looking forward to the change. But I needed to go for a run as much as I needed to lift weights, and practice yoga. It was part of the regime that had kept me sane for the past 10 years or more. It was important. I needed it and with a child and more on the way – I needed it more than ever. Children were anything but predictable.
I checked the time on my phone and I still had plenty of time to shower and cook breakfast before Sage would arrive at 6. I sat up and looked across the room at the sleeping form of the little dragon in my bed. A loft would work for him even now. We’d just have to put on a rail so he didn’t fall out unexpectedly. I made mental sketch of things and I would see if I could have it built sooner rather than later.
I didn’t turn on the bathroom light as I opened the bathroom door, I could shower just as easily in the dark and that’s what I did. The water was hot against my skin and spot that should have been tender under the heat wasn’t. It had healed near completion.
I spent 30 minutes in the shower devoid of any thought but the warmth of the water and the desire for Sage’s arms to be wrapped around me. I don’t know why I’d fallen so hard for the man with the blue eyes. He wasn’t the most gorgeous man I’d seen. He wasn’t the funniest or even the smartest. But his smile drew me in. His sapphire blue eyes said I was home. I knew that was my brain speaking more than finding these things true. I knew I formed attachments quickly when I chose to let someone in.
Jace and I had been distant friends until his mother made us play together. We weren’t friends, we were just roommates. But when I agreed to let him in he was my best friend. My only friend for a long time. Jason Hill was like a brother and it had been just as instantaneous as it was with Sage. Except this time, Sage was not just a friend.
If I’d been older when I connected with Jace things would have moved into the sphere Jace had wanted it to for so long. But change is difficult and losing my best friend and brother is the worst possible thing for me to imagine. Jace made me sane. He was part of the whole piece of who I’d become.
If I’d lost him in a bad break up, then I’d have been lost. I love my best friend but not in the manner he had wished it. I was thankful when he fell in love with Mia. Mia is my savior in that sense. It’s still a touchy situation, but most of the time Jace and I are fine in our relationship.
I was growing too connected to the blue eyed boy who intrigued me from the start. It had taken me a while to remember the night I’d first met him. When I was dancing and screwing his friend. I had liked him then, his big blue eyes, his sweet smile. I had liked that he watched me over his friend. I was the center of his attention that night and I had thrived on it. Maybe in my subconscious I knew who he’d been when I’d hit on him. Maybe it was why I hit on Sage at the club when Dr. Silas was bothering me. All I know is that I wanted more than I had with him, and I was willing to work for it. Margo would be proud of me. Hell, I was proud of me. Maybe I was growing up.
I was quiet while I got dressed. I pulled on a pair of boxers and a pair of black coated jeans with a black t-shirt that said ‘normal people scare me’. I pulled on my gray hoodie and socks and started making breakfast.
A sun-dried tomato, mozzarella and basil frittata was on tap for the day and I added some Italian sausage to the mix since I was cooking for three – two and a half, I doubted Drake would eat a full persons worth at his age. But I had never fed a baby dragon before.
I hated adding carbs to my breakfast, but I still had a half the loaf Mrs. Sheila gave me and figured it would make a great toast. I could roll with some changes. As long as I ate well I was happy. Even if it was skewed from a normal Monday morning.
I checked the time. It was 5:34, and I knew Sage was likely on his way. I felt butterflies in my stomach as I finished baking the frittata in the oven. As I was pulling out the frittata there was a knock at the door. I moved the pan to the hot plate to answer the door.
I knew it was Sage no one else would be up at this hour. Both Jace and Dorian hated early mornings. I opened the door with a bright smile and saw one in return. Sage grinned at me, “Hey. Fancy meeting you here.”
“Drake’s still asleep, I was just finishing up.” I stepped aside and let Sage in. He walked in past me and his shoulder dragged along my chest. When he was inside I closed the door and put my hand on his chest stopping his progress. We stood just past the closed door his shoulder pressed against my chest and my hand in the middle of his. We were smiling at each other like we were mad men and his blue eyes sparkled with desire. I bet mine were dark with it. I leaned closer and whispered, “I want to kiss you.”
Sage chuckled and put his hand on my waist, “You don’t have to ask.”
“Actually, I do.” Sage quirked an eyebrow at me in question. “You told me to wait on that.”
“Ah.” Sage laughed again catching himself and biting his bottom lip to silence himself.
I leaned in and pressed my lips against his tentatively but Sage was pliant and I pushed a little harder and licked his lips. His lips parted and my tongue entered his mouth caressing his lips. Sage’s hand found its way to my head, and we were deepening the kiss. My body tightened low, and I let the small sound escape my lips. I had wanted this for far too long. I kept my hand on his chest afraid if I moved it we’d be writhing on the couch in moments. I wanted it to last forever, this moment.
Sage pulled away when his stomach rumbled. “I guess I’m hungrier than I thought.” He winked at me. “Feed me, Seymore.”
I laughed and didn’t try to hide it. Drake was getting up in a second, anyway. “All right. Can you pour some milk for me and Drake and whatever you want? Glasses are in the cabinet next to the fridge.” I pointed to which side so it wasn’t a guessing game still.
Drake was not so easy to wake up. I tapped him before I had to shake a little harder. His groggy little orange eyes opened, and he grinned at me. “It’s time to eat.”
I laughed. “This is the last piece of cake we have, so you can have it for breakfast, or you can wait to have it for dinner tonight?”
“Cake!” Drake grinned up at me.
“All right. Go to the bathroom and then wash your hands. We have company, okay?”
Drake nodded and looked around me to see Sage waving back at him. “Hi.” Drake got up and ran into the bathroom and didn’t shut the door. Privacy was not something a three-year-old needed.
Sage sat down the stool away from the wall and I wrapped my arms around him and nuzzled against his neck. I took a deep breath and smiled. “I could stay here forever.”
Sage laughed. “You aren’t afraid of being a bad influence?”
“I will be a bad influence even if he doesn’t see my sexual preferences. And this is doing no more than he will see anywhere else. It’s not like I’m even kissing you. I could bite your neck.”
Drake popped out with dripping hands. “Like a vampire?” he asked.
“I could but I wouldn’t be feeding on him, just playing.” I smiled, and I pulled away from Sage to help Drake up into the stool next to my boyfriend. This was a pretty picture.
I served three plates and pushed one to each of them and leaned on the other side of the counter looking at the two new men in my life. Big change, but something I wanted. Something I needed. How things had changed.
“I think I need more room here to feed all the people in my life.” I grinned across at Sage who was happily eating away at his breakfast. Drake however was staring at me with a frown on his face. “Am I forgetting something?” I asked him.
The look on his face screamed traitor. “Cake!”
I laughed. “You mean this cake?” I slide a slice of cake to Drake and he dug in right away like I’d take it away. I looked at Sage with smile. “You want the other piece?”
Sage shook his head. “This is good. I’m good.”
I laughed and set it down in front of us with two forks. “If we don’t eat it, he will.” Drake’s eyes went wide, and I added, “If Sage won’t share it with me, you can have it for dinner, but this is the last of the cake for a while, all right?”
Drake nodded and finished his cake and drank almost the whole glass of milk before he started in on his frittata.
“You really start with dessert?” Sage asked.
“If I eat desert, yes it’s usually first. It’s my rebel side. Convention says dessert is last, so I ate it first to piss people off. It became a thing when I started this life style. When I realized that what I put in my body meant more than what a Venatori did. My metabolism isn’t like theirs. I’m much more human than I am Venatori. But I’m not human either, magic, super senses, the ability to heal almost any wound without the help of my ability, magic is just a few things that set me part from humans. Being raised by Venatori changed the way I would see the world. Being an orphan does that too. I learned to cope with my strange fence straddling world. Just like I’m sure you did. And what Drake will have to do.”
Drake laughed, “You talk too much.” He pushed his plate across the bar. “More please.”
I had been wrong. He would eat more than one person. I gave him another slice of the frittata and slide it back to him. I had finished mine during my explanation. Sage had completed his too and was contemplating the chocolate cake in front of him. I picked up a fork and took a small piece and offered it to Sage and he stared at the fork then at me with a smile. “Fine.” He opened his mouth and took the offered morsel.
I took a piece and ate it myself, handing Sage the other fork. Drake pouted. I grinned at him, “Sorry man. Maybe next time.”
Sage cut a piece of the cake and plopped it on to Drake’s plate and leaned over and whispered into the little dragon’s ear, “Eat it quick before he sees.”
I rolled my eyes but turned to get a cup of coffee. “Coffee?” I asked Sage.
“God. Yes. Please.” Sage drawled out like he was dying.
“Sugar? Milk? anything?” I asked.
“Black is fine.” Sage grinned. “You don’t have any of that, anyway.”
“Sure I do. I just don’t drink it that way most of the time.”
Sage laughed. “Too many calories?”
I nodded with a grin. “I indulge on Starbuck’s coffee every so often with some of their high calorie deals but not often. I like my coffee to taste like coffee.”
Sage grinned. “That’s good to know. So if I wanted to spoil you with things you don’t normally eat, what would you suggest. Milk shakes don’t seem to be your thing, chocolate cake, over the top coffees don’t seem to make you splurge.”
I shrugged. “Chocolate will usually win in any form. Pumpkin pie is a favorite and a regular treat. Bonnie makes a great pumpkin pie.”
Sage laughed, “So you are the reason pumpkin pie is always on the menu even when it’s not fall.”
I nodded. “That and steak.”
Drake hopped out of his chair and ran to the bathroom to wash his hands again. He was pulling at his pj shirt and trying to get dressed. I watched him as he walked into the coffee table and glared at it with one orange eye peaking out of the button hole. “It’s easier if you unbutton it.”
By the time he had the shirt off he was grinning and pulling out a black t-shirt and jeans from his own bag. “Twins,” he declared.
Sage had disappeared behind me and had washed the food dishes and I turned to watch him in my kitchen. He looked back at me with a smile, “You cooked.”
“I can do that, ya know?” I smiled back at him then wrapped my arms around his waist and kissed his neck. “Thank you. I’m going to help Drake get dressed.”
Sage nodded, “All right.”
Drake sat on the floor tugging on his tiny jeans and I picked him up and sat him on my lap and helped him. I tickled his little belly and stood him up while I button the jeans. “Ain’t you handsome?”
He beamed from ear to ear. I instructed, “Brush your teeth. The blue one is new.”
Sage sat down next to me, “You keep new toothbrushes out for company?”
I grinned. “Yes and no. Jace stops by and crashes once in a while. It was time to replace them, so it’s just not been used. I’ll have to put another one out for Jace. Maybe you’ll earn a toothbrush too.” I leaned my shoulder against him and pushed softly.
Sage laughed and pushed back. “Or maybe I’ll just use yours.” Sage was watching my reaction to the tease.
I took a deep breath, and he laughed. “Not a good idea?”
“No.” I frowned. “I mean, it’s no different from sharing spit when we kiss, but I dunno just something about it.” I shuddered.
Drake came out carrying my toothbrush and handed it to me, “Brush, mister.”
I stood up and took Sage’s hand. “We better listen.”
I opened the mirror behind the sink with a press against the side and pulled out a green and red toothbrush, “Which one you want?” I asked Sage.
I picked up the toothpaste while he grabbed the red one. I plunked the green into the toothbrush holder for whenever Jace came by again. This was the most toothbrushes I’d had in my bathroom at any one time.
It wasn’t awkward with Drake standing over us watching us to make sure we brushed our teeth well. Sage tried to fake it by not using toothpaste which earned him a scolding from Drake with the waggling index finger telling Sage no, no, no, no. I didn’t get in trouble, it was a true miracle.
Sage stopped at the front door and frowned at the watch on his wrist. “I gotta catch the train to be in my chair by 8.”
I nodded. “All right.” I turned to Drake, “Come say bye to Sage, he has to go.”
Drake hugged Sage’s legs and Sage picked him up for a better hug before he patted him on the head and Drake was off towards the bed.
“Thanks for breakfast.” Sage said as he grabbed my waist and pulled me close. “It was delicious. And I loved the company.”
“I enjoyed it myself.” I smiled as I leaned my forehead against his. We kissed again softly. My knees felt weak and my hands were hanging awkwardly against his hands. When we parted I was trying to catch my breath without being dramatic about it.
Sage laughed at me and kissed my cheek. “Call me when you can, Nox.”
I nodded. “Okay. Oh. Hey. I have a date with a girl tonight around 6. You want to be here?”
Sage frowned. “Won’t that be awkward? I mean for everyone.”
I shrugged. “Yeah. But I don’t want you to think I’m hiding this from you. I want you to meet her. If you don’t like her, then she can’t be the one. She could be in my life for a long time.” I gave Sage a peck on the lips softly. “And if you are going to be in my life for a long time, then we need to all be on common ground.”
Sage shook his head. “No. I think you need to work out the details with her, then I can meet her. You can still say no, it won’t work right?”
I nodded. “I guess. I’ve never had to do this before. Any of it.”
Sage smiled. “I’d love to have dinner with you. And I am glad you want me to approve of your baby-mama. But we just started this, Nox. Don’t rely on me for this. This is strange enough as it is.”
I nodded and felt the nagging feeling of rejection tinging the edges of my senses. “I’ll call you later.” My voice had fallen flat and Sage heard the change and the hurt feelings. I opened the door and waited for him to leave, but he stood where he was watching me.
“It means that much to you?” He asked.
I shook my head. “No. I wouldn’t do this if I didn’t have to. I’ll drop it. You have to get to work Sage. Don’t be late because of me.”
“Nox…” Sage stepped closer and I looked at the floor. “I’ll come to dinner if it’ll make you feel better.”
“No, it’s all right, Sage. I don’t care about dinner. I’ve been told no before.”
Sage took my chin between his fingers and lifted my eyes to meet his. “What’s wrong then?”
“Don’t give me that bullshit. You can’t stop talking about mundane things. You will not clam up when it matters.” Sage’s voice held a quite sort of rage behind it.
I tried to look down but Sage made me look up at him with slight pressure on my chin. He asked again, “What’s wrong?”
“You reminded me I become attached too quickly.” I glanced at the time on the stove, “You will miss your train.”
“I’ll be late.” He said closing the door with a loud click. “I’m here for the third day in the row.” Sage frowned. “I don’t do one night stands, Nox. This is not a ploy to get in your pants. I think we’ve established the fact that we could have both done that several times already and gone our separate ways. You’ve met my family. I’ve met parts of what you consider family. Fast yes? But I’m here. I’m a little weirded out because you have to sleep with some girl just to have a baby.”
“You think I’m not?” I sighed and pulled away from Sage then walked over to my dresser and pulled the envelope out from under the folders on top of it. I took the document out. “This is the contract we signed when we became adults. Every Venatori has one.” I pulled the last page from the packet and I found a pen on the coffee table and signed the paper then handed it to Sage.
I watched his face while he read it – It clearly stated that in the event I did not bear a child in the first five years I wouldbe fined 50% of my stipend for a year and for every year until I bear the first child. After the tenth year and failure to produce my two heirs a lump sum is fined. My signature on the line indicated they should garnish my wages when my five years was up.
Sage stared at me as I plucked the paper from his hands. “Make you feel better?”
“You said you still had a year left.” Sage sounded confused.
“A year I plan on spending with you. And if you aren’t comfortable now with me sleeping with some girl to make a baby, what makes you think when we’ve been together for six months or nine it will get any easier. They might as well start now.” I opened the door again. “Drake, come on, let’s go.” I turned back to Sage. “You missed your train, if you hurry there is another one in three minutes.”
Sage pulled the paper from my hands and grabbed my wrist, “You’d do this for me? Because I can’t deal with it?”
“Why wouldn’t I? Money isn’t going to make me happy.” I grabbed the paper, but he refused to release it.
He smiled at me. “But I will?”
“That’s my hope.” I stared at him waiting for him to just let things go so we could move on and get over this. He wanted to dwell, and I was over it now.
Sage pried my fingers from the paper with ease. He smiled as he tore it in half. I couldn’t see the look on my face but I’m sure I was wide eyed and open mouthed wondering what the fuck he was doing. “Meet with the girl. If she works for you, I’ll meet her. We’ll decide what to do then. Okay?”
Drake grabbed my hand and tugged me out the door. “Wet’s go.”
Sage took my other hand and tossed the paper into the garbage bin near the door. “I have a train to catch.” Sage wandered towards the stairs and he pulled me into the stair well and once the other side of the door he kissed me hard.
I could have collapsed into his arms but I stood my ground and walked down the stairs with both of them holding my hands. Sage grinned at me, “We okay?”
I nodded. “We were never not okay, Sage.”
“You were mad.” He said.
“I was afraid Sage. I wasn’t mad. I am terrified of being hurt. My life has been nothing but people I love deserting me, and the people who are supposed to care don’t care enough.”
Sage frowned, “Dorian cares.”
“He does now. But it wasn’t always the case. I grew on him and Dae’lin. I was just another kid at first when I needed parents I didn’t have them.” I shrugged. “It doesn’t matter. I survived. I’m just a little fucked up.”
Sage laughed, “A little?”
I leaned over and kissed his cheek. “This is the Academy. You can catch the elevator here.”
We kissed goodbye in the stairwell and parted ways at the elevator. Drake whispered up at me, “I wike him.”
“Me too, Drake. Me too.”