The warmth of the sun on my face and chest, a steaming cup of goraf tea in my hands, Taruif’s arms wrapped around me, and Ianys splashing about in the water below us—this day could only be better if I was in the pond too. But I needed to wait for the water to warm before I could join Ianys.
After the freezing weather this past winter, and flying more than was good for me while I tried to find a missing stripling, my wings were still a bit sore and sensitive to cold, even to a cool pond that was usually so refreshing.
“Ianys will let us know when it’s warm enough.” Taruif kissed my neck, shooting little sparks of desire through me. “And then we can both join him.”
Grass tickled my bare feet and birds chirped in the trees surrounding the small pond. It was a perfect day for a swim. My waiting time would have crawled past, had I not been wrapped in Taruif’s arms. I tilted my head to give him better access to my neck.
It had taken us half the morning to get to this hidden pond, but the long trip had been worth it. Both Taruif and I had been overjoyed when Ianys agreed to join us. One whole day for the three of us, away from spying eyes.
“What have you planned to shut Merel up with tomorrow?” Merel was the chatty kind, and after having spent over twenty turns speaking to nobody but the guide, Taruif tired of it quickly. He’d become good at quieting her with boring, repetitive tasks in the five moons she’d been his apprentice.
Taruif leaned his chin on my shoulder. “We’ll be checking dead trees near Cabaj Pond.”
He meant she’d be checking them, and he’d be correcting her. Luckily, Merel enjoyed any work Taruif threw at her, however boring it was. She was a perfect match for him in will. “Shall I see you for lunch?”
“Doubtful. We’ll be taking lunch with us.”
I faced him and kissed his cheek. “In that case, I’ll be keeping your mother company for lunch tomorrow.”
Taruif’s smile lit up his entire face. “She’ll like that.”
Not a day went by where Taruif didn’t visit his mother, even if it was only to wish her a good day, or tend to her plants.
Ianys was waving. Taruif nodded toward him and took my mug. “Seems the water is warm enough now.”
One last peck and I wasted no time in getting up, dropping my trousers, and jumping into the pond, making sure to keep my wings tightly folded. They’d become damp regardless, but this would keep them from getting drenched.
Ianys appeared in front of me, treading water, a frown on his face. “The water is warm enough, isn’t it?”
“Are you sure?” He ran a wet hand across my arm. “You’re shivering.”
Goose pimples appeared where he touched me. “Because of the breeze. The water is lovely.” Nothing like a heated shower, but lovely even so.
“You’ll get out when you get cold, right?”
It was hard not to roll my eyes at him. “Motherhood suits you.”
That earned me a thump on my shoulder and a splash of water in my face for good measure. I laughed and swam after him as he backed away. We horsed around, chasing each other across the pond, splashing when we couldn’t reach, grabbing when we could. And laughing. We couldn’t stop laughing.
Taruif got right in the middle of us when he joined in, and for the better part of an hour we splashed, dunked, jumped each other, and swam until we were tired. Only then did we get out of the water, wrinkly skin and all, to dry out and warm up lying on the grass.