Chapter 111: Jaya
I'm gonna love you, girl
But it's a sticky situation
“…and then this sign appeared in front of me, just an arrow and a frownie face, and I followed it to this tiny little opening between shelves. It was kind of tight but, ah, I got skinnier.” Jaya wiggled demonstratively under Melchior’s hand.
“Of course, then I was out in the middle of nowhere and I didn’t have the string anymore, but there was a book floating down one path, so I went that way, and then every time I got to an intersection, there was another book pointing the way.”
“That’s kind of spooky,” Melchior said, absently caressing her. “I’ve heard of strange things happening in the library before, though.”
She leaned into his hand; it felt nice, the way he touched her; he paid attention to her, to her body and what she liked, when they were in bed together. “Yeah?” Kai would want to know that. “Seems like the sort of thing new kids should be warned about.”
“Maybe, but I’ve never heard of it being malicious, y’know? A little unnerving, maybe.”
“Well, I guess we got out okay, so it wasn’t all that malicious,” she admitted. “And we were probably someplace we weren’t supposed to be…”
“The library’s a big place, I don’t think any of us really know most of what’s back there.” He snuggled up closer against her, leaning his cheek against hers.
She smiled at him, and, still feeling shy about the whole thing, touched the edge of one of his ears. “This place just keeps getting stranger.” Realizing what she’d said, she added hurriedly, “the Library, I mean.”
“Ha, yeah. The whole thing’s a bit of a shock, I know. I remember.”
She grinned at him. “It was last year, right, for you?”
“Yeah. Sometimes it seems like the Second Cohort have been here so long, they don’t remember what it was like. But we do.”
She felt her grin fading. Second Cohort. “Yeah.” She’d been trying not to think about that… about Ty. “Some of them, I don’t think they ever felt like this.”
“Well, they all came from... oh. Yeah. I guess not all of them.”
“Yeah,” she sighed. “Some of them think it’s perfectly natural to trade people like baseball cards.”
“Oh, Jaya...” He kissed her softly, and she was lost in his arms for a long moment. Even his kisses were different: sweeter, more tender and less overbearing. “What are we going to do?” she whispered.
“I don’t know.” He shook his head slightly. “Do you even know what you want?”
She bit her lip. “I don’t know. It’s hard to think around the being-Kept thing. And the whole baby thing… Ty talked to Caitrin about it, and I think we’re stuck, there.”
“Well, we’ll figure something out. Something.”
“Something,” she agreed with a sigh. She looked at him thoughtfully. “Would you still want me, if…?”
“Yes. But, if what?”
Jaya couldn’t help a small chuckle at that, despite her nerves. “If,” oh, god, “if Ty knocked me up?”
“Of course I would,” he said, squeezing her close.
She leaned into him, intentionally not reading his emotions. There were some things she would, at the moment, rather not delve too deeply into. “Ty’s gonna go apeshit,” she sighed.
“I suppose he does have to find out eventually.”
“Well, we could try keeping this from him.” It would last longer that way, at least.
“That won’t make it any easier when he does find out. Not that I don’t like the idea.”
She grinned at him. “Because the longer it takes for him to find out… the longer we can keep doing this.” Feeling particularly brave, she kissed him.
“Oh, I definitely like that idea.”
She slipped out of his room some time later, trying to calm the flush in her cheeks. There was something about Melchior’s touch that she’d never felt with Ty, something about being with him that was different. Maybe it’s just the choice. But it seemed like more than that.
“…it’s more than that, and you should make sure he knows it, Kai. Sure, he’s wearing your collar, but if you want this to last, you’re going to have to make sure he knows that you want a boyfriend, not a pet.”
There was nowhere to hide, and they were coming right towards her: Shahin and Kai deep in conversation, heads almost touching as they talked, looking like the best of friends.
She was going to be seen anyway; she may as well not look like she was hiding.
“Hi,” Jaya said as she stepped out into the hall, putting on a bright smile and hoping it hid the color of her cheeks.
They both were startled to see her; Shahin recovered first. “Hello,” she smiled. “Having a good day?”
“Yes,” she squeaked. Squeaked? Damn! Shahin looked like she wasn’t fooled for a minute, either.
“Seems that way, yes. We were just talking about boyfriends, want to join in?”
“Um, okay. We can talk about my boyfriend. Ty,” she added hurriedly.
“Is he your boyfriend, then?” Kai asked, sounding curious. Shahin snickered. “What?” she asked defensively.
“Of course he is,” Jaya jumped in, trying to sound more confident than she felt about that. “I’m his, after all.”
“That’s what we were talking about, actually,” Shahin said, with surprising gentleness. “The difference between Owning and dating.”
“It seems a lot easier to do both than either without the other.”
“Around here, yes,” Shahin agreed, although she seemed to be a bit distracted. Kai, on the other hand, was still distressed.
“It’s the assumption, at least, right?” she asked uncertainly. “I mean, that’s what Taro was trying for… I think?”
“I’m sure he was,” Jaya agreed in turn, glad to move to more comfortable footing. “But you like Conrad better, right?”
“Yeah,” she smiled, willing to be distracted. “I mean, it seems like we keep running into trouble, but I really do like him.”
“That’s the way it works, though, right? It’s never going to be completely calm. You work through the trouble.” Like you are, running to the arms of another man? Are you listening to yourself?
“Is it?” She looked small and lost. “I mean, I’ve never had a boyfriend before. Have you?”
“No, I haven’t.” The idea would’ve been laughable, a month ago. “I mean, that’s what everyone says though.”
“You’d think there’d be a lot less break-ups and divorces if it were true, though,” Shahin pointed out dryly.
“Maybe. I guess I don’t really know; everyone else’s wisdom is all well and good, but it doesn’t seem to go quite so smoothly when it’s really happening.”
“Yeah,” Shahin agreed quietly. “We’re all novices at this ‘boyfriend’ thing, I suppose, and adding three different flavors of Ownership to the mix doesn’t do anything to uncomplicate issues.”
“Flavors?” Jaya couldn’t help but giggle a little, thinking of Ty and Melchior.
Shahin raised an eyebrow and smirked, even as Kai giggled along. “I suppose that would make Emrys cinnamon,” she offered.
“Cinnamon? Okay, dish,” Jaya grinned.
“I’ll dish if you two will play along,” she smirked back.
“Okay,” Kai agreed hesitantly. Jaya nodded her acquiescence as well, not at all sure what she’d say come her turn.
“Cinnamon. You know, hot, spicy, all-American while being exotic and imported.” She smiled faintly. “I may be a bit fond of him.”
“Wow,” Jaya said. “Um. Kai? What about yours?”
Kai chewed on her lip. “Hrrrrm. Flavors? Licorice? Kind of bitter, but tasty, and it kind of melts in your mouth...” She trailed off, blushing.
Jaya fought her own blush as her mind ran away with that one. “Oh. Um. My turn I guess, huh? Flavors...”
“Flavors,” Shahin encouraged.
“ Like thick molasses,” she said. “Sweet, heavy but soft, and a little clingy.”
Shahin raised an eyebrow and smirked. Too late, she realized her mistake. “That does sound like Melchior,” the other girl murmured very quietly.
“Mel…” Kai exclaimed, and shut up just as quickly. “Oh.”
Jaya turned purple, stammering, before finally accusing, “You saw me come out of his room!” Great, because that makes you sound innocent.
“Well, yes,” she agreed. “But I’m also not blind.”
“Is... is it that obvious?” Jaya raised a hand to her mouth in horror.
“No?” Kai offered. Shahin shook her head as well.
“No. And I wasn’t certain until you said ‘molasses.’”
“Um.” Jaya took a second to get her hyperventilating under control. “Okay. Uh. Crap. You won’t tell, will you?”
“Of course not!” Shahin looked shocked – actually felt shocked to Jaya’s other senses – at the idea. “You’re our friend.”
She breathed a sigh of relief. “Okay. Oh, man. What am I gonna do?”
“Well,” Shahin offered thoughtfully, “what do you want to do?”
“I don’t know,” she said plaintively. “I really do like Ty, when he’s not being a jerk. But Melchior just... and I... and it felt so right, after the first time...”
“Mm,” Shahin mused, while Kai kind of gaped, like she couldn’t believe what she was hearing. “How are we going to get you out of this mess, Jaya?”
Copyright © 2009-2011 Lyn Thorne-Alder with Elasmo. All rights reserved.
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