Chapter 186b: Jamian
"Enjoying the spoils?" Ardell leered at Jamian; underneath the smile was an edge, however - threat, and something deeper and darker.
Thinking of what Shiva and Mags had said, he kept his hands where they were, on the small of Kendra's back and the bottom of her neck, and smiled cheerfully. "I am. Are you?" He nodded his head at Aneislis, who was trailing along behind Ardell with a dazed half-smile plastered on his face.
"I am." He pulled Annie closer to him, protectively - or possessively. Jamian noted with interest the difference between Ofir and Ardell here; Ardell's pull was a lot less needy, and a lot more self-assured. It made it look as if Annie wanted to be there. "So," he continued, "you saw what you wanted, and you took it?"
"Isn't that the way Addergoole works? The way Ellehemaei society works?" He tried to channel Shiva, to keep smiling and bantering when he wanted to run away, when Kendra, tense against him, clearly wanted just as badly to escape.
"It is. You're a quick learner. And if I wanted to challenge you and take her from you?"
"Well, you'd have to challenge my Keeper."
"You won't be Kept forever." s
"You won't be at Addergoole forever."
"And in the real world, there's no professors to protect you. No rules."
Jamian grinned back at him, getting angry enough to mean the fierce bloodthirstiness in his tone. "Nobody to protect you, either."
"And while he's here…" Tya had come up behind them while they talked. "While he's here, he's under my protection, Ardell. Are you looking to challenge that?"
"Are you going to fight me, if I do? Your Kept seems to like getting you in trouble, Tya. Maybe you want to trade it in on a sweeter model?"
"Like your Annie?" Tya's eyes raked up and down the boy, who was doing his best to be invisible behind his Keeper. Sadly, that didn't appear to be his power. "Nah. You should know by now that I like a bit of fight."
Jamian did his best not to show any emotion at all of this, despite the mess of feelings rushing through him. Jealousy, misery, panic, anger: how dare Tya look at someone else like that, how could she talk about him like that? Did she really think about him like that?
He swallowed, and held Kendra a little closer, hoping she didn't mind. Tya was just playing a game. Right?
"They fight just fine if you order them to," Ardell pointed out lazily. "But you don't want to trade? Pity. I could have had fun with your little bitch for the rest of the year, and I'm sure you would have enjoyed Aneislis."
A small surge of something fierce and animal rushed out of Tya, although all she showed was a smile. "Perhaps I still will. Are you done bothering my Kept, Ardell?"
"I suppose I am. Come, Annie." He dragged the hapless boy onto the dance floor, leaving a hole behind him in the air, a moment of uncomfortable silence in the midst of the cheerful dance music.
"Well, that went well." Tya hugged both of them sideways. "Are you two having fun?"
"Um." Kendra's wide-eyed stammer spoke for both of them. Tya just laughed.
"It's okay. I knew Ardell would try something. If it wasn't Ardell, it was going to be the Thornes, and you're really not their type, or Rozen, and he likes low-hanging fruit. I'm sorry I set you up, Jame'."
"All those things you said…"
"Well, Annie is cute. It would be quite a fight, though, and between you and I, I'm not totally sure we'd win." Her voice had dropped to a murmur, and, for once in her life, she looked serious. "I think he'll be okay. Ardell isn't… well, it's only for a couple more months."
"Yeah." Jamian didn't want to think too much about that. "He didn't really want to trade, did he? You didn't really want…" He found that he was clutching to Kendra; with a muttered apology, he loosened his grip.
"You're being silly," the mouse-girl informed him. "Of course Ty doesn't want to trade you in. Aren't you the magical emotion creature?"
"Magical emotion creature?"
"That's what Ofir…" she cringed. "Sorry."
Jamian looked between Ty and Kendra. "Nothing to be sorry for. Uh, Tya…?"
Tya looked just as uncomfortable as Jamian felt. "I'm not going to trade you in, Jamian. I never would have done that. I never will do that." She hugged him a little tighter, and muttered something into his shoulder. Slightly more clearly, she added, "Jame, read that."
"Read…? Oh!" Magical emotion creature. He dipped into Tya's emotions, reading as deeply as he dared. Honesty, an overwhelming surge of sincerity, rushed over him first, taking his breath. She meant it, and not only that, she meant it more than she normally meant anything. And, beneath that?
"See?" Kendra's squeak sounded amused. "She loves you, doesn't she?"
"I…" He looked between them. "Oh." The high color on Tya's cheeks, the uncertain blotchiness of Kendra's, and the small surge of desperation from the mouse-girl told him more than he'd been looking for. "Uh."
"This is cozy." Melchior's voice made everything all the more uncomfortable. He patted Jamian's back, and came to stand between Jamian and Kendra, as if physically trying to separate them. "Is there room for a fourth?"
"I… I think I see Eris flagging me down," Kendra stammered. "I should go see what she wants. She might burn the place down if I don't."
"If anyone bothers you…" Tya wasn't even looking at Kendra, but she still had a note of protection in her voice that was confusing Jamian to no end. "You tell them I'm protecting you. You are under my protection."
"Not mine, just my friend." She reached over absently, her eyes still on Jamian, and patted the girl. "Give Eris a kiss for me, would you?"
With a mortified squeak, Kendra fled, leaving the three of them staring at each other in uncomfortable silence.
"Well." Melchior cleared his throat and looked at the two of them. "I know we haven't talked in a couple days, but…" Waves of jealousy were pouring off of him, and he was making no attempt to hide his hurt. He coughed again. "She's cute."
"She is," Jamian agreed blandly. "And she was in a really bad spot, and… well, I guess we got her out of it."
"We did." Tya squeezed him closer, and draped her other arm over Melchior's shoulders, bringing them into a tight triangle. "And now Jame' can stop fretting about his little mousey girl all the time, and we can play again."
"Stop… play… what?" Mel looked between the two of them, sputtering. "What? I mean… Jamie…"
There was only one way he was going to resolve this. Telling the last tiny whisper of what-will-people-think to go hang it and die, Jamian leaned in and kissed his goblin lover.
He put everything he had into the kiss, his affection for Melchior, the thin line of lust that had been rising up in him all night, his happy triumph at having beat Ofir and the system, the heady rush of power. He slid his free hand up into the goblin's hair and, after a moment, snaked his other hand down to Mel's butt, and held Melchior as close to him as he could.
Tya's hand pressed against Jamian's back, and he could feel her breasts rubbing against his arm. He could kiss Mel forever.
"My turn," Tya murmured, and grabbed the goblin's hair.
Watching the two of them kiss was almost as good as kissing either one himself. Jamian found his hands wandering up and down Tya and Melchior's backs, blind for a moment to the dance, to the audience, to anything but the triangle of lust they were making. The sensations, Melchior's desperate need, Tya's insatiable hunger, his own rising desire, they were all delicious and all beginning to overwhelm him. He could get lost in this. He could let it carry him away.
"It's not like you don't have a room." Wyatt's unpleasant sneer cut into Jamian's affection-borne trance. "Seriously. Do you have to do that on the dance floor?"
All of Jamian's self-loathing came rushing back, pushed on by the disgust and anger Wyatt was projecting. He managed an uncertain sneer in response.
"Seriously, you've been in Addergoole almost a year and you're complaining about people kissing? What, not getting enough?"
The slightly-doggish boy flushed. "What I'm getting is none of your business - and what you're getting is none of mine. I don't want to see it on the dance floor, that's all."
"Sorry, it's just…" Now would be a good time to be able to turn invisible.
"Don't be." Tya's voice was firm and implacable. "Jamian, don't be ashamed of who or what you are. There's nothing wrong with it." She squeezed his ass firmly. "C'mon, I like watching you kiss Mel, and Mel likes it. Unless you're sleeping with Wyatt now…?"
"Um, no." Wyatt clearly knew he was outgunned, and, looking at the three of them, backed off slowly. "Damn, I was just joking…"
He hadn't been, Jamian knew… but, buoyed by the order, he didn't really care right now, either. He kissed Melchior again, glad that things seemed to be going right for once.
Copyright © 2009-2012 Lyn Thorne-Alder. All rights reserved.
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